The Burns wounds in children is one of the major structural problems in West Africa. Cooking is done outside on fires at ground level. By the time a child starts crawling or walking and it’s curiosity grows, it’s mother usually has a new baby or is in a far stage of her pregnancy of the next child. It is the duty of an African woman to bear many children, without doing so she is not a great wife. Access to education may change this but the growing number of girls that are now sent to the Darra ( islamic teachings only) seemingly grows at a fast pace. The islamic teaching confirm the african beliefs of larger families. Often lacking proper nutrition, a pregnant or lactating mother, shares the insufficient nutrients with her child. Thus her body and spirit are somehow impaired, her alertness is often compromised.
The thought of “cause and result”, “action and reaction”, is taught to children in the west at an early age. Once taught to predict what might happen next, it is difficult to imagine what it is like not to see the world like that. Lighting a fire on ground level, walking away whilst your toddler is around, is one of those things that happens daily. As well the fact that a mother, when e.g. does the laundry whilst she is waiting for the rice to boil, may expect others to watch her child at that time. Often those “others” are unaware of that fact and leave the child, thinking the mom cares for it. This inevitably leads to a large number of burn cases in many compounds where lack of money makes it impossible to better protect the child. The number of children with burns in Gambia is estimated to be 1 in 4, so there is a 25% chance that children will suffer from burns.
Poverty provokes The Gambia’s progress.. Access to clean water and health care is out of reach for many because of the costly distance. Lack of education often means people follow the group. The leader of the group, cultural rules, religious laws, determine what to think or do in daily live.
It is believed that the hair of a white rabbit, helps dry a burn wound and heals it. Similar beliefs lead people to apply ashes of certain trees burnt leaves or pre-heated soil, toothpaste, the ashes of burnt sugar-cube boxes or newspapers, etc. Village healers use these methods. Cultural beliefs make people turn to the village healers and so the habits become a never-changing spiral. Local clinics usually lack first aid methods and equipment, are often at a distance and often too expensive (people have to buy their own medicines). Thus help is sought in such local treatments. These treatment often infects the wound, which can cause serious, often life-threatening, complications in the youngest. We have seen severe deterioration of health, weight loss, exhaustion, malnutrition or worse. The need for an effective treatment centre nearby is therefore not a luxury. Education on housewife level is a necessity to prevent this unnecessary suffering.
The large hospitals would be able to treat most burns effectively, however at high cost to the family. A family member must stay with the child 24 hour whilst admitted, without facilities for that person to be in place. Meals are to be purchased from around the hospital from street sellers ( expensive) or delivered by a family member who often has to come from far. Transport cost of this travelling up and down is often more than a family can manage. Not to speak of when the child is released and needs to come daily for treatment. Parents must buy the cream which for one day can easily cost more than a day’s salary, add up the cost of transport and the inability to go to work..
Families often live with many on one meager income. Since one plus one is not five....it is simply out of reach for the largest group of the population to make use of the larger hospitals. Aloe Vera can grow anywhere. We can take the medicine to the people’s compounds, to schools to village healers, just anywhere !! The method can be taught in a few trainings. The child does not need to end up in crisis, life can continue at home, the child will sleep normally and not suffer dehydration. Our treatment does not require antibiotics on a normal healthy child, Aloe Vera takes the pain away and keeps the wound clean. Bandage needs to be changed only once in the 3 days.