EMERGENCY’s Paediatric Centre in Mayo is located in the suburb of the same name, about 20 km from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Inhabited by more than 300,000 people, its population is very young: it is estimated that half of those living here are under 14 years old. Our clinical activities are focused on supporting the children in this community.
Through our Mayo Paediatric Centre, we have implemented an antenatal care programme and a malnutrition screening programme. The lack of clean drinking water and poor hygienic and housing conditions, combined with widespread malnutrition, are among the main causes of death among children in Mayo.
The main diseases we treat in Mayo
Every day, as early as dawn, a long queue of families forms in front of the entrance to the centre. They come for their children to be examined, who often suffer from seasonal respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis, but also from gastroenteritis, malaria and other infections. The difficult living conditions in the suburb mean that some of these infections can quickly develop into sepsis, a generalised infection that can even lead to death in the most severe cases.
Among the Centre’s patients: Safu and her girls
Also waiting for a visit, we met Safu and her twin daughters. Accompanying them, to give their mother a hand, is her oldest son.
One of the two little girls has been diagnosed with bronchiolitis and has begun treatment at our Centre. Common among children under the age of 2, the viral infection’s initial symptoms are similar to a simple upper respiratory tract infection such as a common cold, but it can degenerate in a matter of hours and, if not properly treated, lead to respiratory failure and even death.
The other twin had a serious condition requiring 24-hour oxygen therapy. We provided initial oxygen treatment at our clinic and then referred her to a public hospital to finish the treatment over a few more days. Safu and her three children travelled together in our ambulance.
Our preventive medicine activities
Informing families about the hygiene and dietary rules that are essential for their well-being is an integral part of our work in Mayo, through our preventive medicine programme. In the different areas of Mayo, fathers, mothers and children participate in our health education classes, which focus on simple actions – such as washing hands before meals – that are essential to avoid the rapid spread of diseases; on correct eating habits; and on hygiene practices for the prevention of malaria and diarrhoea. We also cover maternal and reproductive health, discussing proper breastfeeding practices and family planning.