7 things every parent should know if you have a sick child.

Being a  parent is a big responsibility. Having a sick child can be very stressful in all levels and more so if you  have a chronically ill child.

A Chronic illness is any illness that persists over a long period and may last throughout a person’s life. This type of illness demands continuous medical management.

It can be overwhelming for a parent to know their child is suffering from an illness, much more if it will not be for a short while. Because of this, most parents become helpless not knowing what and how they can help their young ones.

In this post you will learn how as a parent you can be your child’s biggest advocate and help in their treatment and care.

1. Know your child’s medical condition: Know everything about the disease condition of your child. From the name of the condition, what might have caused it, how it is being managed. You can know all this by asking your child’s doctor. You have a right to know so ask. The doctors and nurses also have a responsibility to inform you and educate you on it. When you know, it gives you control over how you can care for your young one.

2. Be a part of their care: You become a part of your child’s care if you accompany them on their hospital visits. Your child may be a teenager who can attend the clinic by themselves , but it always necessary for a parent to be present with them.

3. Know and monitor their medication: rawpixel-600792-unsplash.jpg As a parent, you should know the medications your child is taking. The name, the type of drug, what it is used for and possibly even the anticipated side effects. You can make a habit of reading drug leaflets for such information. It gives you an idea as what to expect. And in times they may be reacting to a particular drug , you can be aware.

4. Speak to their school: If your child is chronically ill. For eg; if your child is a diabetic, you need to alert the school especially if they provide lunch for the kids so they know what your ward can eat or not. If it’s a boarding house, your child’s house master/mistress should be made aware of your child’s condition so they can provide him/her with the necessary assistance and care to help them maintain their health.

5. The whole family should be aware: When a member of the nuclear/immediate family is chronically ill, it is important if the others know about it more so if it’s a minor. This is beneficial and sometimes life saving in case of an emergency. This makes everyone in the family capable of giving an accurate history of the patient’s medical history.

6. Be an advocate for your child:  I have met parents who are not able to fight for the rights of their children in hospitals, schools and even in our communities. But that is something as  parent you should know how to do. Speak up when your child is not receiving the best of care or attention. That is your child so protect them with everything in you.

7. Give them all your love: Even though caring for a sick child can be stressful, it is very good for the children to know that you love them regardless of the stress, frustrations and financial strain you may be experiencing due to the illness. Remember love is also healing.

There has been many instances where parents with chronically ill children are ignorant about their children’s condition. These have led to poor choices with their care and management. But by observing these 5 points, you are sure to promote the health and wellbeing of your child.

 

 

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15 Patient’s rights you never knew you had in Ghana.

 

 

The ignorance of most Ghanaian patients is something that lots of stakeholders benefit from with the exception of the patient who bears the disadvantage. From the government heads to the hospital heads, the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, midwives, medical laboratory scientists, and all other working professionals and auxiliaries in our health facilities across the nation. Because the patient doesn’t know their right, they are more often than not given any kind of care. But learning your right as a patient can not only arm you to demand the right care, but also put others on their toes to deliver the best care.

THE PATIENT’S RIGHTS

As a patient;

  1. You have a  right to quality basic health care regardless  of your geographical location ( it is your right, do not let anyone make you feel like they are doing you a favour).
  2. You are entitled to full information on your condition and its management and the possible risks involved except in emergency situations when you are unable to make a decision and the need for treatment is urgent. (As a patient, always ask questions. If the nurses and doctors are not telling you, you have the right to ask. So ask and be informed about your own health. Never leave the hospital not knowing what you are suffering from, what caused it, how to prevent and manage it).
  3. You have the right to know of alternative treatment(s) and other health care providers within the Service if these may contribute to improved outcomes.
  4. You have  the right to know the identity of all your caregivers and other persons who may handle you  including students, trainees and ancillary workers .
  5. You have the right to consent or decline to participate in a proposed research study involving you after a full explanation has been given. The patient may withdraw at any stage of the research project.
  6. If you decline to participate in or withdraw from a research project, you are still entitled to the most effective care available.
  7. As a patient you have the right to privacy during consultation, examination and treatment.
  8. In cases where it is necessary to use the patient or his/her case notes for teaching and conferences, the consent of the patient must be sought.
  9. You are entitled to confidentiality of information obtained about you and such information shall not be disclosed to a third-party without your consent or the person entitled to act on your behalf except where such information is required by law or is in the public interest.
  10. You are entitled to all relevant information regarding policies and regulation of the health facilities that you attended.
  11. Procedures for complaints, disputes and conflict resolution shall be explained to patients or their accredited representatives.
  12. Hospital charges, mode of payments and all forms of anticipated expenditure shall be explained to the patient prior to treatment.
  13. In case of any exemption facilities, they shall be made known to the patient.
  14. As a  patient you are entitled to personal safety and reasonable security of property within the confines of the Institution ( As a patient in a hospital, it is the duty of the hospital to protect you from any kind of harm. If the hospital fails to do so, you have the right to demand for it or in severe cases, take legal action against them).
  15.  You (patient) have the right to a second medical opinion if you so desire. (This means if you are not comfortable, convinced or satisfied with the care and options you are being given by a particular doctor or hospital, you can ask or choose to seek another opinion).

 

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Dear Ghana, we can fight rabies. It is possible : (Findings from the Healthy Pets Healthy Humans Campaign).

In 2015 I witnessed a series of rabies cases in the Emergency department which all ended in the death of the victims.

What all victims had in common were that;

1. They had all experience dog bites.

2. They were all ignorant of first aid after a dog bite.

These patients died basically due to ignorance.

The Healthy pets, Healthy humans campaign was birth after a patient who had sought medical care after the dog bite was given tetanus injection and asked to go home, only to acquire rabies later.

I realized then the problem of ignorance was not just with the people but the health care givers as well. 

The campaign was started in December 2015. This was what we did…

1. We created audio CDs on Rabies education and prevention in the local Twi dialect. The audio included how rabies was transmitted, animals that can transmit rabies, what to do after a bite, signs and symptoms of rabies, etc.

2. We partnered with  some  Assembly men in the Kumasi metropolis who in turn led us to the various information centers. After speaking with them, they played the audio CDs for a week to sensitize the people.

3. After playing the CDs, we organized mass anti-rabies vaccination for those communities.

4. In all three communities were visited for vaccination but the audio was played in five communities. 50 dogs were vaccinated against rabies.

These were our findings after interactions with the people:

1. The people were eager to vaccinate their dogs after they heard the education via the information centres.

2. Secondly, the people were willing to pay to vaccinate their animals contrary to popular belief that Ghanaians wanted free vaccination and there were no funds for that.

3. Most dog owners were discouraged from sending their dogs to the veterinary due to;

a. Long distance from their homes to the roadside.

b. Transportation cost from taking a taxi with the dog to and from the veterinary hospital.

4. Others also did not know the severity of rabies so they never thought it wise to send their dogs.

Thsee are  my recommendations:

1. I believe the education on Rabies should be made paramount to the understanding of the average Ghanaian. Innovative strategies like ours need to be employed to deliver the message to the people.

2. Our health care workers need to be abreast with the management of Rabies and other conditions that frequently present at their facilities. Tetanus as the only treatment after a dog bite has to stop! People are dying when they shouldn’t.

3. Well functioning animal laws need to be put in place and monitored to control and reduce the reckless ownership of animals and stray dogs in our societies.

4. Ministry of health and the Government at large need to start giving attention to quality health education and preventive health as a whole to better improve the health and choices of Ghanaians.

NB: Healthy pets Healthy humans is a campaign that needs to supported adopted by the Government and other stakeholders to be done on regional and national levels to help combat the incidence of Rabies in our dear country Ghana. 

This approach can very well be adopted by other African countries.

It is Possible!

Help me spread the word.

 

Simple ways to Keep school kids from dehydration in this hot season.

Children and the elderly are more at risk of dehydration than any other group. Reducing their risk is therefore important to keep them healthy.

1. Make available good drinking water in the schools or classes. School owners should put in place water dispensers in the corridors to encourage the students to drink more water.

2. Give your child a water bottle filled with water. Parents must put water in the back packs of their wards. Tell them to drink the water.

3. Give frequent water breaks in class. A minute or two break to drink water will go a long way to prevent possible dehydration. It will also encourage all the kids to drink since every one will be taking part.

4. Keep activities indoors : The hot season is good for trying some indoor activities or games. Staying long in the sun to play is not advisable as it causes them to sweat a lot. This leads to tiredness and subsequently loss of attention and interest.

5 . Do not over load students in the school bus: The school buses mostly have more students in it than it is supposed to carry. But in this hot weather, it is more risky overloading students due to reduced air entry to the bus, excessive heat leading to dehydration. Too much Sweating is also not good.

Let’s keep our children healthy in the heat.

#Notodehydration

Picture by Nathaniel Tettey.

It is Hot! Tips to stay healthy in this heat.

“Chale it’s hot!” Have you said this yet? I have; so many times this past weeks. As much as I love the way clothes dry fast, I totally hate the way I feel in this weather.  But as much as it is an uncomfortable period, and has the potential to make a lot of people sick, there are a number of things you can do to maintain your health and make it more bearable.

1. Drink a ton of water! I am on my 4th sachet of water today and I know I’m going to need more before the day ends. Dehydration is common in this season. Don’t replace drinking water with soft drinks or alcohol. Take in lots of water.

2. Stay indoors during the day: It is advisable to spend more time indoors while the sun is up than outdoors.  Keep your activities outside to a minimum.  Too much exposure to the sun is not good for your health especially if you do not wear sunscreen.

3. Wear light clothing : Dress lightly during this season.  Do not wear too much layers of clothing. And when at home, wear a few clothes.

4. Wear hats and sunglasses : carlos-alberto-gomez-iniguez-107821.jpg

Time to wear hats when going out. Also get your huge sunglasses out of the case and put them on. If you don’t have it yet, just go get some in town, in the shops, or the eye-care service centers. It doesn’t have to be expensive to protect your eyes.

5. Take cool baths/ showers during the day: artem-beliaikin-475601.jpg

If you happen to be home during the day, take cool showers, swim  or soak yourself in cold water . It will do a world good.

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The School nursing system in Ghana needs revising. Here is 5 reasons why

One part of the school system that has always been neglected and  it’s  effect underestimated  is the school nursing system in Ghana eventhough our schools house the most valuable assets our country has which is out future generation.

Below are 5 reasons why this system needs serious attention and immediate revamping.

Reason 1:  In Ghana, school nurses are only or mostly found in senior high schools. The few that may be in junior high schools are in certain private schools. Leaving the majority of school children  in nursery, kindergarten,  primary, and junior high schools without any qualified system of  health care in the schools.

Reason 2: The school nurses provided by the ministry of health to the senior high schools are Retired Nurses who are infused back into the system to continue working. These nurses are already tired; how can they effectively care for these huge numbers of adolescents in our schools.

Reason 3:  The “school nurses” are given no training with regards to adolescent health and preventive health strategies. It is just assumed that they are nurses with experience so they can work in the school. But school nursing needs more than just years of Nursing practice to be effective.

Reason 4: The presence of the Free SHS policy has greatly multiplied the number of students in each school thereby increasing the need for proper school nursing  (health ) system for the protection of the health of the students and the school community as a whole.

The H1N1 saga at the Kumasi Academy SHS is a clear indication of a poor school health system.

Reason 5: There is lack of monitoring, evaluation and  supervision of the school nurse in Ghana. The school nurse in Ghana is left to do what he/she wants without any one checking if it’s right or wrong.

Let’s pay attention to the health of our young population because they are our future.

#ChangetheSchoolNursingSystem

#Protectthehealth9ofstudents

7 children who are at risk of rape

There has been a lot of recorded rape cases in the news in our country recently. These acts although frowned upon in our communities, still have not received the needed attention both till now.

It has become very necessary for parents to know how to protect their children from such perpetrators. Although children are being targeted,  not all children are at risk of being abused sexually. Studies have shown that some groups of children are at a higher risk of becoming rape victims than others.

1. Children from a poor family: Poverty poses a great risk to the health of families, communities, and nations as a whole. One of the many risks is the risk of children being raped. This is mostly due to the community or neighbourhood they live in, the level of education of the parents, their lack or inability to seek legal representation if such incidents happened. Children born to poor parents need protection.

2. Children in rural basic schools: Let me ask you,  of all the rape cases recorded in school how many were in Private schools? It is a known fact in Ghana that parents who are well to do send their children to private schools  (Primary and junior high schools ). Therefore there  is an almost 0% risk of getting your child raped in a private school. This is because the people know the parents can take you on.

3. Children from broken homes (with single moms ): Having both parents around to care for a child creates a protective shield for them. But when a marriage breaks and single parenting sets in, especially in cases where the mother is left to care for the children, people with these bad intentions tend to think the mothers are not able to stand up for their kids without the father. Especially in cases when the woman is uneducated.

4. Children who experience poor parent child relationship: Children depend on their good relationship with their parents to form other relationships outside. When there is a gap or an unfriendly one between them and their parents, they are likely to extend that need for attention and care to others who may take advantage of it to abuse them sexually. It is important for parents to strengthen their bond with their children to avoid misplaced dependency.

5. Children who are left at home with no proper  supervision: In this modern-day where parents are mostly busy and have little time to spend watching over their own kids; it is easy for them to be left in the care of an unqualified caretaker. Such practice exposes the children to sexual abuse and other kinds of abuse.

6. Children who live with their step-fathers: It is more common to hear about a step father sexually abusing his step child than to hear about a biological father doing same. Mothers who have their children living with step parents should be aware and vigilant to avoid such malpractice.

7. Children who are in abusive homes: No one likes to live in an unhappy home.  Children who are from abusive homes like to stay out to prevent the negative energy at home. These children are sometimes exposed to people who might abuse them sexually. The sad part is that such children are mostly not heard when they complain to their parents.

 NB: These children listed here are at an increased risk of being sexually abused. But it doesn’t mean that all children in these categories are or will be abused. Prevention is better than cure. And knowledge is power.  Now that you know, you have the power to protect your child.

 

picture by Trevor Cole.

 

 

 

 

 

Effects of the unhealthy every day snack culture on your child.

brigitte-tohm-147669Not long ago, kids in Ghana went to school with either a home cooked meal or went to school to eat waakye, rice and stew , etc without much worry about drinks and the likes. At least those were for occasions like Our day(end of term celebrations) or for the Dada be’s (rich kids) during weekends. Kids in those days ate better than what we see now.

Today, almost every child attending a private creche, pre-school, kindagarteen, primary and even some JHS go to school with snacks that are unhealthy every day, five (5) times in a week. Parents buy drinks, biscuits, toffees, bubble gum, etc for their kids just because it is now an acceptable practice. But this practice has both long and short term health effects that need to be considered before buying your next snack.

1. Obesity : The snack culture like many other adopted cultures was copied from the western world. But as we copied we did not lok at its pros and cons before embracing it for our children. America is fighting childhood obesity due to this habit of exposing kids to sugary drinks and biscuits, toffees and the likes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that  from 2011 to 2014, between 2 and 19 year olds, about 12.7 million children and adolescents are affected with obesity.

The snacks kids are being given on a daily basis contains calories, sugar, sweetners and other chemicals that causes an unhealthy increase in body weight.

2. Increased risk of diabetes : Parents who have a family health history of type 2 diabetes increases their chidren’s risk of developing diabetes in future with this snack culture. It is very important for parents to know their health history in order to have control in managing the health of thir kids.

Kids with diabetic parents should not be handed these sugary snacks when it can greatly harm their health.

brooke-lark-325182

3. Dental ill health : One significant cause of tooth decay / dental carries is too much sweets. When kids are given sweets every day for school, we are investing in their weak teeth in a few years to come. Especially when our attitude towards periodic health checks is poor. Giving your child unhealthy snacks daily will harm their teeth.

4. Decreased attentiveness: Sugar gives energy. More so for kids, it makes them hyperactive and difficult to keep still. Every chold is unique in their composition. Some are more active than others. For the more active kids, giving them sugary foods only increases their activities thereby reducing their attentiveness in class. On the other hand, a less active child could benefit from a little sugar to boost his/her activity level.  You should know your child and what will be best for him/her.

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5. Unhealthy future habits: Children learn from adults and form their opinions and habits from what they are exposed to by their parents. By giving your child unhealthy snacks daily, you indirectly tell them it’s good so they keep the practice and continue while the grow. Such habits only lead to obesity, heart diseases, etc for an adult.

Let’s review this unhealthy culture for a healthy future generation.

Follow my blog for more on how to change from unhealthy to healthy snacking for your kids.

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