February 1 to February 7 marks International Development Week (IDW), celebrating Canada’s contribution to international development, especially in improving the health of women and children. The theme this year is “We are making a difference!” The entire week, Grand Challenges Canada will publish short success stories, showing how our Bold Ideas with Big impact are saving and improving the lives of those who need it the most in developing nations. Through Integrated Innovation in global health, the novel projects we support are making a difference!
When Nigerian mother Olufunmilayo visited the Immunization clinic to measure the weight of her one-year-old child with Neurodevelopmental Disorder (NDD), Primary Health Care (PHC) staff at the clinic shouted at her and blamed her when they saw the child could not sit without support on the weighing scale. It seemed the child was unlike other children with normal neurodevelopmental milestones that the Primary Health Care workers had been seeing.
An innovation supported by Grand Challenges Canada is incorporating routine surveillance and screening for childhood Neurodevelopmental Disorder into Nigeria’s National Program on Immunization. This is improving diagnosis and treatment and reducing associated social stigma. During a workshop for Primary Health Care workers, Olufunmilayo was able to address the workers who had inadvertently and maintained the template for stigma and discrimination in the past, thereby discouraging community inclusion even at the Immunization Clinic.
Olufunmilayo felt glad that she could freely discuss the problem that her child is going through among healthcare workers and other parents, a situation that she noted was quite difficult prior to then. She acknowledged that the intervention is helping parents to talk freely about their concerns relating to their child development.