The Lesotho Citizens' Hearing
In Lesotho there were two Citizens' Hearings - in Leribe District, Matlamaeng ADP and in Koeneng ADP.
The Citizens' Hearing held in Koeneng ADP and was led by World Vision Lesotho with the purpose of engaging children, parents and citizens on child health issues, to ensure that all children receive primary health care that will help prevent child mortality and morbidity before their 5th birthday. The community was sensitized on the importance of immunization, proper nutrition, the benefits of giving birth at a health facility and exclusive breastfeeding, and the importance of oral rehydration salts to stop diarrhea. The main objective was to have dialogue with the children about the matters stated above, buy diving children in to houses on all those child health areas. 250 people, including children under 10, parents, local decision making bodies (chief and councilors), a priest and 2 health facility staff participated in the activity.
The children seemed to understand the importance of eating all the 3 food groups, one said “my mother said I should eat well, so that I grow tall and strong”. However when asked whether why wash their hands at school before eating some said they forget even though they always do it at home. When asked about diarrhea, they had an idea on how they could possibly contract it - “By drinking contaminated water” one of the young girls said. They also knew that their parents could get oral rehydration for them from the clinic to stop it or they could make it for them at home. There was no knowledge of why it was beneficial to give birth at the health facility or why babies should be breastfed exclusively.
When asked whether or not they had been to the clinic to receive immunization the children said yes. They also pointed out that their younger siblings also go to the clinics to get immunized. During the speeches the health personnel made a presentation to the children and parents that it was important that children received all the vaccinations so that they are protected from diseases and grow strong and healthy. They further urged them to wash their hands with soap and water before preparing food and after visiting the toilet.
The chief told his people that the messages they received today were of great importance and that they should pass it on to those that were not there. He further stated that expecting parents should go to the clinic and also to make use of the services and advice offered.
After all the speeches were made the children engaged in round robin games through different houses (nutrition, oral rehydration, immunization and skilled birth attendants) and GIK in the form of toys was given to the best performers.
The Citizens' Hearing in Leribe District Matlamaeng ADP engaged almost 50 people and was organised by World Vision Lesotho with the Ministry of Education; issues discussed by the community as priority were:
- Teenage pregnancy increases school drop out
- Inaccessible health facilities cause mothers and children not to access primary health care
- The need for more health staff and enough drugs in all health facilities
- Rehabilitation of roads to make health services accessible
Local government representatives present informed citizens that the current budget will contribute to improved road construction to health facilities.