It was held on Friday 18 December the Webinar organized and promoted by Global Health Center and World Friends?, with the collaboration ofASL South-East Tuscany and l 'AOU Senese, leader of ongoing projects.

“Usually we always talk about huge financing, but for me it is a great satisfaction to see how even with a little one can achieve great results. This is the spirit of the activities that the Global Health Center has been carrying out for years in Kenya and in many other countries ”.

- Maria José Caldés Pinilla, Director of the Global Health Center


Kenya currently counts over 92.000 positive cases of COVID-19, however, the number of tests carried out is extremely low, suggesting a much higher spread of the virus in the country. The clinical impact caused by the pandemic appears to be reduced compared to other contexts, especially due to the low average age of the population and the extremely restrictive measures adopted by the government in response to the first confirmed cases. However, the COVID-19 effects have been devastating on a socio-economic level, especially when taken into consideration the environment of slim, the large slums on the outskirts of Nairobi, where projects funded by the Tuscany region, through the Global Health Center and implemented by World Friends together with the Tuscan companies: precarious economic situation due to social restrictions and the consequent loss of work; expulsion of the population from health services out of fear and stigma; sudden increase in hunger and malnutrition levels; domestic abuse and violence; misinformation and false myths.

COVID-19 and maternal and child health

According to data from the World Health Organization Kenya is one of the countries with the highest levels of maternal and neonatal mortality. Despite having a lower impact on the health of mothers and children, the virus puts them in danger due to the interruption of health services. In this context, COVID-19 should not be interpreted as a pandemic, but one syndemia: within the population of slim of Nairobi an acute respiratory syndrome (Sars-Cov-2) and a number of non-communicable diseases interact. The risk of this combination is to accentuate the effects of each individual disease, particularly in environments of profound socio-economic inequality.

Over the past 10 years, thanks to the support of the Global Health Center and the collaboration with the University Hospital of Siena, within the Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital, a hospital founded in 2009 in Nairobi by World Friends, a quality improvement program for neonatal care. To this end, a specialized perinatal team was created, close to mothers and children, which continuously collaborated in the drafting of protocols and data collection for a progressive improvement of services. Since its first opening as a day hospital, RU Neema today offers a maternal-infant service open 24/24 hours.

Despite the current trend of diverting resources to the general population, to the detriment of the specific needs of vulnerable groups (such as mothers and children), RU Neema has tried to maintain all its services relating to maternal and child health: activation of an ambulance service for the recovery of women in labor during the curfew, health education and prevention activities at community level and treatment of obstetric emergencies in the hospital operating room.

“Local interventions are the answer. We need to rethink and reprogram ourselves, not only by having a health center, but by reaching the patient at home and in communities. This is what I learned alongside my Kenyan colleagues and Tuscan partners ”.

- Maria Vittoria De Vita, Pediatrician at RU Neema Hospital

The socio-health impact of the collaboration between World Friends, the Global Health Center and the USL Toscana Sud-Est

The speech by Alessandro Dadomo, World Friends Kenya Regional Vice-Coordinator, and Luca Scali, examines the two most recent World Friends projects together with the Tuscan partners. "Health education: training and health education program for young people in the Mathare slum" e "Rehabilitation, Knowledge and Awareness Disability Program". The first project has three components: health education, with a specific curriculum promoted in 31 schools and community centers for the promotion of the health and well-being of young people, with particular attention to girls or girls at risk; sport, through the purchase of sports equipment and clothing at the WhyNot basketball academy; the presence of health workers and in schools and aggregation centers and the missions missions of the personnel of the Tuscany Region allow for health referrals to the RU Neema Hospital.

“To reach the child's full development potential, not only a health care approach is needed, but also adequate interventions aimed at cognitive, linguistic, motor and social development. In Sub-Saharan Africa 63% of children do not reach their full development potential ”.

- Luca Scali, International Cooperation Section of the South-East Tuscany Local Health Authority

The new program "Rehabilitation, Knowledge and Awareness Disability Program", implemented in 2020 and which will end in 2022, resumes the objectives of "Health Education", adding a component referring to children with disabilities. Improvement of health conditions, equipping health centers with gyms and specific equipment and references to RU Neema Hospital are the focal points of this project. Innovative dimension is the activity for the fight against stigma, educating children of informal settlements about disability: the intention is to create a treatment center for disability at the WhyNot academy, promoting the treatment and inclusion of children with disabilities in a shared environment with the rest of the children of the slim.

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