Newsletter - Summer 2020
The trustees of STACC, the directors and staff of the clinics supported by STACC and especially the families of the children in Africa treated with STACC support want to thank you, our donors, with all our hearts for your continuing support. Without you, there would be no STACC, the clinics would be offering a much reduced service to their communities and many children would go untreated. Many, many thanks indeed and we very much hope that you will continue to support STACC as we go forward.
Despite the challenging times globally in which we currently live, the STACC-supported clinics continue with their work as best they can, despite lockdowns of varying degrees of severity in each of the four countries. In Uganda, STACC now contributes over 12% of the running costs of the children's ward at Pope John's Hospital at Aber, treating children mainly, but not exclusively, for malaria, respiratory infections and intestinal disorders. As part of the lockdown measures in Uganda, public transport in the country has been suspended and so the numbers of attendees at the hospital, including the children's ward, has been significantly reduced since mid-March. It is a similar story at the other STACC-supported clinic in Uganda, St Kizito Hospital in Matany. During the October to December 2019 quarter, 2543 children were admitted, but between January and the end of March 2020, the number of children declined to 1741, and since then the number has declined further, although we still await the formal figures at the end of June. When the lockdown is eased we are anticipating a surge in demand at the clinics as so many children currently are not receiving the health care they require.
In Kenya, BION has continued with its malaria prevention programme in the Maasai area of southern Kenya, and over the last few months has bought 60 mosquito bednets at KShs1240 each (just over £9 Sterling) and a similar number of blankets for distribution in the community. BION also continues with its child nutrition programme and so a significant amount of its budget has been spent on basic food staples for the children such as maize (for ugali, a ubiquitous staple in East Africa), beans and milk. The staff at BION are also keen to promote an awareness among the population of the deleterious health impact of female genital mutilation. The Government of Kenya has outlawed this practice, but it is still embedded in the culture of the Maasai communities in the area and we are supporting BION in its efforts to help to reduce and ultimately to eliminate this practice.
The Nigerian clinic at Ile Ife (STACCILEIFE) has had its services much reduced since March as it operates mobile clinics serving the surrounding rural areas and the lockdown in Nigeria has banned all but the most essential travel - interestingly, a mobile clinic is not apparently considered to be 'most essential'. Happily, this restriction was relaxed a couple of weeks before writing and the mobile clinics are up and running again. Nonetheless, between January and March 2020, 36 clinic sessions were run and a total of 1416 children received treatments, with the two most common ailments by far in that period being malaria and upper respiratory tract infections. Malaria on its own accounts for almost 42% of all the cases treated by STACCILEIFE.
Currently, STACC-Ghana is reviewing its activities and priorities, and so funding from STACC is in abeyance until a new workplan is developed and approved.
One of the longest of STACC's partnerships has now come to an end, but for all the right reasons. STACC-SL in Sierra Leone over its lifetime has had a major impact on the health of children in that country. In 2006, about 48% of school-aged children in Sierra Leone were assessed to be infected with intestinal worms, a debilitating condition which results in poor health and impaired development. With your support, this rate had been reduced to 18% by 2016 and is still going down. As a result of this success, the Government of Sierra Leone adopted this as a national programme and in 2019 took over the responsibility and funding of the programme at the national level from STACC. Without your generosity, this would never have happened and everybody associated with this programme, donors, clinicians and support staff, from its very modest beginnings can be proud that it has now become a self-sustaining national programme. We wish the continuing programme all the very best for the future.
At the time of writing (mid-June), Covid has had only a limited impact on Africa. As of 12 June 2020, reported cases of Covid in Africa stand at only 3% of the global total and deaths at only 1.4%. It is almost certain that these are underestimates because of testing challenges and inadequate reporting systems. Nonetheless, cases and deaths are on the increase and African observers are very concerned that the Covid peak is yet to come. If so, the pressure on the health systems in African countries, and on the STACC-supported clinics in particular, is going to be immense. Whilst the current evidence suggests that children are largely unaffected by Covid infections, the impacts of Covid on the health of their parents and grandparents could be enormous, such that children will suffer the secondary impacts of Covid through reduced family care and rising food insecurity. The STACC-supported clinics need our help even more now than ever before.
Like virtually all other charities, STACC has experienced a reduction in its income at the very time that the demands have increased in the light of Covid. One of STACC's major fundraising events, the STACC Quiz Night, had to be cancelled due to the lockdown and other potential funding bodies are also being understandably reluctant to donate, primarily because of stock market uncertainties. It is without doubt a difficult financial time for STACC and its support for the clinics.
The final thing, but absolutely not the least, is that we have to pay tribute to David Crompton. David, as you know, founded STACC back in 1992 with the aim of promoting the provision and development of child health care in sub-Saharan Africa. Since its inception, STACC has received over £2.3 million and supported over 1.7 million medical treatments and nutrition interventions, and funded the purchase of innumerable pieces of vital equipment. David decided to stand down from the Board of STACC from the beginning of 2020, but he will very much still be an active member of STACC. David created a model charity, with its very low running costs and its firm base on personal knowledge of those who run the projects on the ground. It can point to remarkable achievements, from its ability to keep going during civil disturbance to its establishment of ways of working which had been transformed into national provision. The trusted personal bonds which David developed with healthcare professionals in Africa formed the basis of enduring relationships which have provided the secure basis for the long-term funding of clinics and health centres. At David's last STACC Board meeting he was presented with an embroidery from Zimbabwe illustrating the lives of mothers and children. David will be greatly missed by the Board for his experience, wisdom and commitment. The Board is delighted that he will remain closely connected to STACC and continue to assist with fund-raising and especially in London.
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