Health Education in Agua Caliente Nueva

Every month, the local health clinic conducts a health education workshop with the community members in Agua Caliente Nueva. This July, I was able to sit in on their workshop. The topic: Feeding Newborn to 2-Year Old Infants. The topic for August seems to be about children of middle-school age, but unfortunately I’ll be leaving before that workshop!

I really liked the materials that were presented at this workshop; I didn’t get to see which organization provided the materials but it reiterated what we learned in school about breastfeeding recommendations. Two key recommendations for breastfeeding mothers:

  • Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age
  • Continue breastfeeding infants from 6 months until 2 years of age, along with introducing appropriate complementary foods

It’s been stressed in school how a newborn’s first meal should be breastmilk, at the mother’s breast. If the baby is given a bottle, the baby will have a much harder time taking to the breast and successfully latch on or suckle. So if y’all know a pregnant woman in your life, make sure they know that breast is best!

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She’s explaining that “breast is best” for babies from birth to 6 months. Breastmilk is filled with the mother’s antibodies and nutrients that are sufficient for a baby!
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A balanced diet for children between 6 months up to 2 years of age will lead to a healthier childhood; better grades in school; better health, job, and income in the future
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Infants can continue to be breastfed after 6 months up to 2 years of age. This is the time when you can start to introduce foods into the infant’s diet, as seen in the next photo.
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A mother can start to introduce vegetables, fruit, cereals and legumes, and animal products to an infant between 6 months and 2 years of age.

For infants between 6 months and 1 year of age, the solid foods should be chopped up or pureed. They recommended 3 “main” meals a day and 2 “snacks” of one type of vegetable and one type of fruit. I really liked the way she explained this part because this town doesn’t have much access to a big supermarket or a year-round offering of assorted fruit or vegetables; she explained that it’s alright to just get whatever’s in season (which honestly makes sense!) such as mangoes, bananas, chayote, etc.

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This page says NOT to give infants between 6 months and 2 years of age any sweets, fried foods, sugary drinks, and coffee.

I have seen so many children pop into the tiendas around town to buy dulces (sweets) or comida chatarra (junk food). I’m glad that this page was presented to inform the mothers. Can you believe some women give their little kids coffee?! I can’t believe it!

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This is the page that explains how a day’s worth of meals could look like for an infant between 1 year and 2 years of age!
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Recommendations for avoiding diarrhea: WASHING HANDS WITH SOAP AND WATER

I realllllly liked this page because I’ve always been interested in WASH. To me, it was always intuitive, but that is probably since I grew up in the US. When I was in Ecuador volunteering as an English teacher, I finally realized the luxurious life that I lived. Granted, I’ve gone to the countryside in Taiwan before when I was much younger, but didn’t really understand WASH or the privilege we have in New York (and the majority of the US) to have constant access to clean, drinkable water. While I lived with my host family in Tumbaco, my host mother always boiled many vats of water for the family to use. I also bought a 6L water jug to keep in my room to wash my contact case and when I brushed my teeth.

During the health workshop, the healthcare worker explained the importance of washing hands with soap and water:

  • before preparing food
  • before and after feeding your child
  • after changing a baby’s diaper (apparently she knows some mothers who don’t wash their hands after changing the diapers)
  • after using the restroom

In many parts of the world outside of the US, water scarcity is a real issue, so washing hands may not be a priority since water is needed for “more important” household events, such as bathing, washing dishes, washing clothes, preparing meals, drinking, etc. There are some parts of the US who do not use water to flush waste, or wash hands after using the bathroom. Take a moment and imagine that. This is why I wanted to study Public Health. People around the world should not have to live without WASH and experience the many stresses that are attached to water scarcity.

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Here in Mexico, some people I know do wash their hands after using the restroom, although they may not use soap. Honestly, I give them props to wash their hands after using the restroom when there are quite a few people in developed countries with steady access to water who don’t wash their hands after handling their junk or wiping themselves. Again, think about this for a minute. Your urine or feces (AKA poop) is not sanitary and is filled with bacteria. By not washing your hands with water or soap, you are doing a disservice (and quite frankly, being inconsiderate) to the people around you by letting them touch your germs when they grab the handles of the doors you touched, when they shake your hand, when you prepare food for your friends and family, when they touch items on the restaurant tables such as the salt/pepper shakers or ketchup bottle, etc. Get the picture? 

Do us all a favor and make an effort to wash your hands with soap and water!!
No one wants to touch your urine or fecal bacteria and get sick as a result! 😦

YOU are capable of engaging in public health and helping to prevent the spread of bacteria and diseases by doing something as simple as washing your hands with soap and water after using the restroom!

If you are moved by and want to make a difference by using less water, check out one of my posts listing different things you can do to save water at home 🙂

 

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