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 “THE IMPORTANCE OF CLEANLINESS AND HYGIENE IN HEALTHCARE AND IN THE COMMUNITY" 6-7 July 2016 - two-days training at the Rex on the subject of hygiene and cleanliness in healthcare settings and in the community.

This is the first initiative dedicated to this topic that introduces a more structured training program that will take place in the coming months at the Rex. Along with cancer prevention and treatment, as well as the services dedicated to children’s health, the Rex will now offer a new Permanent Scientific Education Service, dedicated not only to the healthcare operators in our team, but also to those who work in other healthcare centers, and most of all to the population of Fianarantsoa and of the Haute Matsiatra region. The NGO La Vita per Te and the Akbaraly Foundation put the Rex center at the disposal of the city and of its population, as well as their staff and their technical and scientific skills, in order to allow all those who are interested to increase their knowledge about healthcare.

A lot of the participants were technicians and experts, but there were also a lot of young people and many authorities, most of which thought they would just pop in for a minute, just to make an appearance…but then ended up staying until the end and asking a lot of questions! All the speakers used the Malagasy language, in order to allow everybody to fully understand the basic concepts. The PowerPoint presentations were projected on the screen of the former cinema, which accommodated the entire audience on the newly renovated seats, with a (miraculously!) fully functioning audio system – everybody was completely hooked!

"IMPORTANCE OF CLEANING AND HYGIENE IN HEALTHCARE AND IN THE COMMUNITY '" 6-7 July 2016 - two days training at the Rex on the subject of hygiene and cleanliness in healthcare settings and in the community.

The speakers did a great job and managed to keep everybody’s attention and to answer all the many questions of the audience, despite the complexity of the topics at hand. And when it was time for a break, we all moved in the hall, which was set up for the coffee break: cookies, some savory crackers, coffee, tea, warm milk and…back to the second part of the conference!.

First up was Dr. Martin, Director of the Ampansimanjeva Hospital, a surgeon specialized in tropical illnesses and gynecological cancers who has been working with us for several years. He spoke about the necessary hygienic practices to put in place in any hospital and medical center, in order to avoid hospital-acquired infections and illnesses. This might seem like a very simple topic, but in this country where a lot of basic resources are lacking it really isn’t easy to keep even a hospital clean and sterile. Observing a few simple rules could definitely help: washing our hands adequately and cleaning all the spaces and tools regularly and with the appropriate products, for instance. After Dr. Martin’s speech, these basic rules became a lot more clear, even though we still have to face the lack of appropriate resources, especially in public healthcare centers, where sometimes there isn’t even electricity, or running water.

Then Dr. Prudence, “our” pediatrician and Professor at the Fianarantsoa CHU, as well as Head of Pediatrics in our Hospital, spent two hours talking about how to prevent child mortality, with a strong emphasis on malnutrition, the prevention of infectious diseases and the importance of vaccines. Two thirds of the children in Madagascar are considered malnourished, and are therefore weaker and more vulnerable to infections, especially respiratory and gastrointestinal ones, which are actually the first cause of death for children under the age of 5.

A correct diagnosis of these infections, as well as proper vaccination protocols, adequate medication and the possibility to treat the more serious symptoms (such as dehydration) in a hospital, can all prevent these dangerous illnesses from worsening and spreading, especially when it comes to children. Teachers, cooks, and all those who work in community service need to be made aware of these risks and of the fact that cleanliness and hygiene are essential in order to keep children healthy and to save a lot of money and resources! A small investment in prevention means that a great deal of money is not spent treating easily avoidable illnesses.

Finally, Ms. Andry, Responsible for the district’s Vaccination Service, highlighted the importance of vaccines as a preventative measure, as stated by the WHO, and talked about how difficult it is to put in place proper vaccination campaigns in the country (such as the latest one promoted by the Health Ministry, against polio). This presentation was followed by a lively debate on a new service that we started offering in the last few weeks: the HPV vaccination to prevent cervical cancer, free for girls aged 10 and 11. A lot of technicians and healthcare operators were curious about this procedure; there is a lot of interest in this issue and there definitely is a strong need to explain what HPV is, how it is transmitted and how important it is to get girls vaccinated in order to prevent uterine cancer. The discussion on this topic was very long and interesting, and it highlighted that HPV and STDs in general are definitely something that the general public is interested in. We may plan a training program in the future about this topic, because our staff already has rather a good “technical knowledge” of it thanks to Prof. Rivasi’s training course last year.

There is a strong need for training courses, technical support, refreshers courses about healthcare and health-related projects here in Madagascar: even the public healthcare institutions recognize this and support our initiatives. Dr. Bakoly, the regional Head of the Public Health Service, also sponsored our activities this time. We all highlighted the importance of training and supporting the local personnel, the technicians, and most of all the young people that we are investing on, in order to make our projects happen. We could have state-of-the-art, modern, expensive equipment but, with no technicians able to use it properly, it would be a waste.

Training and teaching is an essential goal for our NGO and Foundation, it is fundamental in order to guarantee that our projects will be sustainable in the long term. In the future, young people, especially those who we are helping with training and education (one of the technicians in our team is currently attending a Master in Cytology at the Modena University!) will be able to manage the health services that are currently under our management. The Rex center was created FOR the Malagasy population and will have to be managed BY the Malagasy population. What we are doing is simply laying the groundwork for the future, building the knowledge and the skills of these young Malagasy people who represent the future.



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