Monday, 29 September 2008

Meet the Doctor Series: Handling Typhoid Fever

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen and GEF

There are recurrent health concerns that kill many persons in Africa due to the absence of basic information. One of them is Typhoid Fever. This is a life threatening disease that is caused by a bacteria called salmonella typhi. Recently, there has been an increase of cases of people suffereing from the disesease in Cameroon. Unfortunately, diagnosis is not quick because it is generally difficult to differentiate from malaria. For instance the symptoms include fever, headache, mild vomiting which are also present in malaria. The unfortunate consequence is that people tend to prescribe treatment for themselves leading to ineffective healing.

Self-medication also arises because people have little information and cannot easily access a doctor. We thought we could bridge this gap by bringing doctor's help to all, through cyberspace. We developed the internet-TV series "Meet the Doctor" to provide advice on health issues like typhoid fever.

We spoke to Dr Peter Louis Ndifor, of the Family Health Care Foundation Bota, Limbe in Cameroon. He provides background and insights on typhoid fever that could prove useful to all.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Don’t you think Grandma and Grandpa need a break?

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

Being a grandparent seems to be a great experience. For many it ushers moments of happiness. The joy of having someone who refers to you as “Granny”, a little one to hug, love, run around with and share wonderful moments together.

In many homes and communities, grandparents have always helped to look after their grandchildren. They are so happy that they travel long distances to be part of the action. Some grandmothers have had to travel abroad to “babysit”. However, for a growing number of grandparents, the brief visits to welcome the new-born baby have now been replaced by the responsibility of providing full-time child care, while Mom and Dad are busy at work.

Imagine a Grandma; aged 60. She wakes up at 6 am each weekday, gets the grandchild ready for school, prepares breakfast, and escorts the child to school. Once home she embarks on some household chores (housecleaning, laundry, cooking) until her grandchild returns from school. Then she has to feed, play with and sometimes chase, shout and discipline her “little one”. She may have to separate a few “brother versus sister” fights and help out with the homework.

At this point Grandma must definitely be exhausted.

Healthcare professionals say this is having a heavy toll on the health of “Grannies.” Today, grandparents tend to suffer from problems like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, fatigue, alcoholism and strokes that doctors link in part to the stress of being “parents all again”. At times some are on the verge of a nervous break-down when their grandchildren prove too stubborn to handle or are linked to issues like addiction, alcoholism or promiscuity. Doctors are worried that maybe out of ignorance, limited financial means or deep love for their grandchildren, many grandparents down-play their health needs.

For some grandparents, there‘s even another challenge, that of effectively helping their grandkids with their homework and studies as a whole. Those who are literate, went to school in a different age and style from what obtains now. Those without any formal education need extra help to support the child academically. In all, it is not easy.

Yet, a good number of grandmas and grandpas have done pretty well as babysitters and child care providers both for their kids and grandkids. Some are simply terrific!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bravo Grandma! I figure those who fall under this category live healthier and longer lives.

I suppose healthcare professionals need to be aware of this rising phenomenon of “second-time parenting”. They should ask pertinent questions about the lifestyle, home situation, daily activities of those persons who indicate that they are grandparents during medical consultation. Maybe the “back-pain, headache, waist-pain…” is a result of raising a house full of difficult- to -handle grandchildren.