“I had a feeling Jumanne would be diagnosed with severe anemia,” Hadija recalls with tears in her eyes over the fate of her two-year-old son. “He’s been suffering from diarrhea for the past few days. Also, it is dry season and there has been a shortage of rainfall for the last three months. Most of the food we are using is not fresh, but dried from the past harvesting season."
Hadija knew her son’s diet had been compromised. And she understood the threat anemia posed to young children. She was afraid for her son.
Anemia—a type of iron deficiency—threatens as many as 3.5 billion people around the world. But few places are affected as acutely as Tanzania. In Shinyanga province, where Hadija’s family lives, 71 per cent of children aged six months to five years suffer from anemia. If left untreated, it can lead to a host of long-term health problems, and even death.
But detecting the condition isn’t easy. Health facilities are sparse and not easily accessible. And, because diagnosing anemia has required a traditional blood test, there is fear that potentially dirty needles will spread diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Health care workers desperately needed a new approach.
That solution has come in the form of the Rad-67 Pulse CO-Oximeter, a non-invasive hemoglobin monitoring device. Needles are no longer required to draw blood, and the device’s six-hour battery life and near-instant wireless communication of results provides tremendous time and cost savings.
The blood monitor was able to provide accurate test results, enabling a doctor to diagnose Jumanne’s anemia. Jumanne was then referred to a district hospital for a blood transfusion. After treatment, World Vision’s nutrition education and food security work will help ensure children like Jumanne continue to thrive.
With funding assistance from Global Affairs Canada, World Vision’s ENRICH - The 1000 Day Journey
program will continue to support in-field testing and the projected distribution of these devices to community health workers as part of the program’s mission to reduce maternal and child mortality.
Thanks to better detection and more rapid treatment for anemia, regions like Shinyanga will be better positioned to save the lives of more children like Jumanne every year.