Well Child Care for a Somali Bantu Family

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  • Topic: Somali Bantu, Bantu, Bantu peoples
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  • Published : March 8, 2005
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Well Child Care for a Somali Bantu Family

This project consisted of the Somali Bantu refugees living in the Tennessee Village Community in Nashville, TN. Within this population set, the subset includes families with children aged 12 months and younger. It is estimated that 8-12,000 Somali Bantu will to arrive in the US in the 2003-2004 year (USDS:IIP, 2003). Of this 8-12,000 refugees, the students of Belmont University were able to interact with approximately 200 of them. Of these 200, about ½ have children under the age of 12 months. This is consistent with the findings of the International Organization for Migration, (IOM) which reports that there is a high birth rate experienced by the Bantu culture, with most married women either lactating or pregnant and that there is little concept of family planning (2003). Although members of the Somali Bantu culture come to America dealing with health problems like Tuberculosis, infection related to genital mutilation, HIV and syphilis; well baby care presents challenges for this culture as well. In fact, (50%) of newly arrived Somali Bantu children experience preventable injuries related to immunizations, safety, and hygiene which are effected by their cultural practices (Eno et al., 2002). These are issues that need to be addressed in order to provide advancement in the quality of well baby care; care that is provided to the child who is without illness in order to prevent illness or maintain health. Within this first group of problems are those that related to increased risk for communicable diseases: • Lack of immunizations and knowledge deficit of the need for immunizations, •close living spaces,

•lack of access to medical care,
•a high incidence of Low Birth Weight infants,
•poor nutritional status related to maternal nutritional status, •High Crude Birth Rates creating oversized families, and
•Poor infant feeding practices.
While these problems seem easily preventable within the framework of American society and values, many times, these are not available in Kakuma or other Somali Bantu camps. In addition, Americans have a more proactive approach in utilizing the above measure, while the Somali Bantu take a more reactive approach to health care (U of W, 2003).

Immunizations that are available in the particular camp in Kenya mentioned in this article are OPV, oral polio vaccine and the MMR, measles, mumps and rubella. While all the vaccines that are required in the unites states would be necessary and are high on the list of what would be necessary in the camps in Kakuma, additionally the Hepatitis B vaccine would be a valuable asset to those living in close spaces (IRC, 2004).

The second item in this group is close living spaces. In both the refugee camps and in America, the large families are placed in small spaces and apartments. Close living spaces are a risk factor for both communicable and non-communicable diseases (AGDHA, 2004). In America, these small apartments provide more affordable housing which allows a refugee resettlement agency like Catholic Charities, to provide more help for more families and allows the refugee family a better chance to become self-sufficient.

In the camps, there is limited access to medical care (IRC, 2004).This affects the health of the children who immigrate to America and creates a need for health assessments once the infants become American citizens. The infants born in America are affected differently by the limited access to medical care because of the public health facilities available in each county. Facilities like the Lentz Public Health Center Provide free access to basic well child check-ups and immunizations.

The fourth item of this group is the high incidence of Low Birth Weight (LBW) babies, which refers to the incidence of the birth of infants born less than 2.5 kilograms. In fact, (19%) of infants born since...
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