Health and nutrition fair educates rural folks on myriad of issues

In an effort to create awareness, regarding the current health issues, such as communicable and non-communicable diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health and the free-of-charge health services offered by the Government to the general public, Oxfam and ADRA organized a Health and Nutrition fair in the Buttala town, recently.

 The fair was one of the activities of the Assisting Communities in Creating Environmental and Nutritional Development (ACCEND) project. The ACCEND project is funded by the European Union, in collaboration with the Government of Sri Lanka, and is implemented by ADRA Sri Lanka, in consortium with Oxfam in Sri Lanka, in the Matale, Moneragala and Nuwara-Eliya districts for four (04) years. The project focuses on both rural and estate communities and aims to improve health, nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation of communities.

The fair was organized with the support of the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) office of Buttala, and the Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) of the Moneragala district. Furthermore, the members of the Water Management Committees (WMCs) and Health & Nutrition Committees (HNCs), established through the project, rendered their assistance to make the event successful.

The fair comprised three specific units - a free medical camp, an educational exhibition and an educational hut. The medical camp, run by 15 staff members of the MOH office of Buttala, did tests on over 200 of the visiting public (that came forward voluntarily), for non-communicable diseases (NCD) which mostly are related to nutrition. This has resulted in identification and referral of dozens for regular clinics in the hospital and advice and guidance for many others to prevent/ control such diseases. The exhibition has provided the much-needed health information on nutrition and on diseases, such as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and mental illnesses and the service centres – through its colourful leaflets, posters, banners, verbal explanations and continuous video presentations.

The nutrition hut displayed over 15 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables grown in the ACCEND project - assisted home gardens and provided instantly made nutritious fruit drinks, salads and local sweets at a nominal fee. Apart from all these, the public was able to interact and discuss, on site, with 25 local health officials, including doctors, nurses, Public Health Inspectors and midwives, and have their myths and fears allayed through scientific information. Representing the community, the whole event was facilitated by a team of 10 community volunteers of the ACCEND project from Buttala’s HNCs. Over a thousand people - mostly women of all ages and from the interior villages - visited the stalls, roughly for about 45 minutes, to an hour each, within the day, and were benefitted from it.

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