Philani Child Health & Nutrition Project
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Home based nutrition rehabilitation

"I had been abandoned by those who know me. Philani became my mother and my father..."
Busiswe, mother of twins

The Khayelitsha Health and Nutrition survey (UNICEF, 1994) showed that the children most at risk for malnutrition, neglect and abuse were living in socially and economically marginalized families. To reach these children Philani started a house-to-house visiting programme in 1995. This has been further developed into a comprehensive outreach programme, which is now Philani’s largest and most far-reaching programme. Women from the local communities who have well-nourished and healthy children despite poverty, so-called 'positive deviants', are identified and trained in order to advise and support other women in the community regarding child health and child care issues. Together, our Outreach Workers and mothers identify resources and coping mechanisms developed in the community and use these to improve the quality of life of mothers and children. About half of the children admitted to the programme are fully rehabilitated from their malnutrition by 6 – 8 months and another quarter see significant improvement. The programme is funded by The World Childhood Foundation (2008-11), the Elma Foundation, the Western Cape Department of Health and the City of Cape Town.

Over 4,500 children and their families are supported through our Outreach Programme at present.

The Outreach philosophy

The Philani Outreach Programme aims to identify every malnourished child and child at risk of malnutrition, neglect, HIV/AIDS, abuse or exploitation in Philani’s target communities and intervene to protect these children. The philosophy behind this programme is one of finding and building on knowledge and experience present in the community, recognizing and developing women's resources and facilitating women's support of each other in protecting the healthy mental and physical development of children. The Philani Outreach Programme is modeled after the David Olds Nurse Home Visiting Programme and the internationally established 'Hearth Model', adjusted to South African circumstances.

Outreach workers

More than 100 Outreach Workers operate within this programme, all volunteers, receiving ongoing training and a monthly stipend for their work. The programme is managed by three Outreach Coordinators, two Senior Assistant Coordinators and three Assistant Coordinators (volunteers), all of whom are out in the community five days a week, running the programme in over sixteen areas. The Outreach Workers are responsible for identifying malnourished children and children at risk in an allocated geographical area and inviting them and their families to participate in the intervention programme.

Continuous professional training is an essential aspect of the Outreach Workers' involvement with the programme. They are trained in child health and nutrition, HIV/AIDS, TB, dental health, counselling, child neglect and abuse, resource mapping, community home visiting, in the field growth monitoring, and many other topics.

Medicals and evaluation

Weekly clinics with the Philani Medical Doctors are held at each of the five Philani Nutrition Centres, to which children on the Outreach Programme in need of extra medical attention are referred. In 2007, a programme of field-clinics, held in houses in the local communities, was initiated, with the aim of all children on the Outreach Programme being checked regularly by a doctor.

There is a strict regime of monitoring the programme and children's progress and measuring outcomes. Outreach workers' client records are checked reguarly and data captured and analysed for evaluation purposes.




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