Background of 'Witch Children'
Because of extreme poverty and lack of education, witch accusation is a growing problem in many African countries, especially in Nigeria. Witch accusations may occur due to death and illness in the family, harvest failure, layoffs or infertility. According to traditional African beliefs everything has a supernatural source, and it is often the children who are made the scapegoats.
Children who are branded as witches are subjected to torture in the most terrible forms: poisoning, knife stabs, and starvation. These children are defenseless. They live in pain and fear.
Karan Tilani Hospital
One in five Nigerian children never reach the age of 5. Ending preventable child deaths can be achieved by improving access to skilled health professionals, lifesaving interventions such as immunization, breastfeeding and medicines, and increasing access to water and sanitation.
Karan Tilani hospital will provide quality healthcare at no cost for children who have been abused and tortured as a result of being branded as witches. The hospital shall also offer health services to other children from the host communities at nominal or no cost.
Once the hospital is fully operational, it will contain multiple wards, each consisting of 4 beds and a shared bathroom. It will also include a laboratory, an outpatient department, an operating theater, a consulting room, a pharmacy and nurse stations.
The hospital will treat children who have pneumonia, malaria, tyfus, ringworm infection, malnutrition, diarrhoea, yellow fever, meningitis, HIV, tuberculosis, skin infections and measles, among other illnesses.
Through the support of Karan Tilani, pneumonia will be eradicated in the state of Akwa Ibom and also in other Nigerian states.
In Nigeria, pneumonia is the leading cause of death for children up to the age of 5. Karan Tilani has committed to saving thousands of children suffering from pneumonia by pledging resources for the purchase and administration of PREVNAR 13® (Pneumococcal 13-valent Conjugate Vaccine [Diphtheria CRM197 Protein]).
The scope of work involves negotiating with Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, which has offered the vaccines at privileged rates for this mission. The vaccines will be administered through prefilled syringe cartridges.
Karan Tilani is supporting DINNødhjælp which is a non-profit organization registered in Denmark and African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF) which is a non-profit organization registered in Nigeria. Both organizations will locate primary health centers in partnership with the Akwa Ibom State Government in less privileged Nigerian communities, overlook the decentralized distribution of the vaccines and storage of the vaccines at primary health centers until they are administered to the children suffering from pneumonia. To ensure full transparency, the organizations record the details of each child receiving the vaccine.
I was highly excited with two areas of the project - the innovative way of wealth distribution from a luxury experience to the less privileged and the humility of Karan in caring for the children. This is clearly the way to go in making the world a better place.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER
Do let us know if you are interested in becoming a volunteer!
We would prefer not to disclose the amount but rather to focus on the impact that over 20,000 Nigerian children are going to be saved through this effort.
According to the most recent UNICEF report published in November 2019 (https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/one-child-dies-pneumonia-every-39-seconds-agencies-warn), pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five in 2018, or one child every 39 seconds. Nigerian children made up the highest number of those who died from pneumonia, an estimated 162,000 deaths in 2018 – 443 deaths per day, or 18 every hour, or 1 every 3 minutes.
In Nigeria, 19% of child deaths (children under the age of 5) were due to pneumonia in 2018, and it was the biggest killer of children under-five in 2017.
Pneumonia is a deadly disease and takes so many children’s lives – even though this is mostly preventable. And yet, this killer disease has been largely forgotten on the global and national health agendas.
The biggest contribution for child pneumonia deaths in Nigeria are malnutrition, indoor air pollution from the use of solid fuels, and outdoor air pollution.
Most global child pneumonia deaths occurred among children under the age of two; almost 153,000 children die within their first month of life.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.
Eradicating pneumonia in the state of Akwa Ibom in Nigeria is a private initiative funded by Karan Tilani, who is supporting both DINNødhjælp (https://www.dinnoedhjaelp.dk) and African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF) (https://www.acaedf.org). The Karan Tilani Hospital was also made possible through the support of Karan Tilani, who is working with both the non-profit organizations.
DINNødhjælp is a Danish humanitarian non-profit organization founded in 2012 by a Dane – Anja Ringgren Lovén. The primary purpose of the organization is to help the so-called witch children in Nigeria. Anja was named the world’s most inspiring person in 2016 by OOOM Magazine. Barack Obama became No. 2 on the same list.
African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF) is a leading non-profit/non-governmental organization in Nigeria advocating against, but not limited to child-witch branding, a menace which has led to stigmatization, torture, abandonment and even killing of children. It is the sister organization of DINNødhjælp. ACAEDF was founded by David Emmanuel Umem who is Anja’s husband.
The hospital is refurbished from an inoperative building and is located within the premises of Land of Hope, owned by DINNødhjælp. It is currently undergoing renovation works and the purchase of medical equipment in stages. The hospital, run by DINNødhjælp and ACAEDF will start operating from around end 2023.
While awaiting full completion slated for end 2023, the Karan Tilani hospital is currently being used for basic health services which is conventional for hospitals to offer. Such services include:
1. Nutritional education and counselling (e.g. breast feeding education, prevention and management of malnutrition)
2. Antenatal services
3. Post natal services
4. Health education on communicable and non-communicable diseases (e.g. diabetes screening, blood pressure checks, HIV and AIDS, malaria tests and other basic health care)
5. Routine immunization services
6. Treatment of malaria,typhoid
7. Storage of drugs
8. The hospital at the moment is also used for isolation cases
9. Storage of medical equipment including stadiometers, weighing scales, sphygmomanometers, glucometers, etc.
The building of the exterior structure of Karan Tilani Hospital is fully completed. The interior is in its completion stages, electrical works are being done in some parts while other parts of the hospital (interior) which have been painted and completed, are being used for the services mentioned above.
At its full capacity, there will be 3 paediatricians, and one of the doctors would also be a surgeon. There will be 12 nurses in the hospital that will be deployed in different wards, along with a pharmacist and laboratory technician. Once fully ready, the hospital will have approximately 40 beds in a very comfortable arrangement (4 beds per ward), as we believe in dignifying the children and providing them the level of care that they deserve. There are also other wards such as the Accident & Emergency (A&E) ward and operating theatre which shall treat more children. With an average of each child staying for a week in the hospital, and with many kids not requiring hospitalization but mainly outpatient treatments, the hospital can save over 500 children every month, which equals over 6,000 children annually.
We have a programme on purchasing 20,000 vaccines of Prevnar 13 vaccines that will impact 20,000 children (an average of 1 dose per child is sufficient given the effectiveness of the vaccines). These 20,000 children would most probably lose their lives through pneumonia, if not for our efforts. The vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and we are working together with their local distributor, Worldwide Commercial Ventures Limited.
Around 20,000 doses vaccines are being procured from Pfizer. The commitment to saving children from pneumonia is not an overlapping mission with the Karan Tilani Hospital, and this mission has its own impact on the communities.
We have secured 6,000 vaccines that are planned to arrive in the state of Akwa Ibom in late Jan to middle February 2020. Funds have been dispatched to DINNødhjælp and its sister company ACAEDF (African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation), and ACAEDF has a MOU implemented with the Ministry of Health, Akwa Ibom State Government (AKSG), where AKSG will provide and make available facilities to aid in the logistics of the vaccination programme (cold storage), security of the vaccines, and identifying targeted areas who would be beneficiaries of the vaccination programme. The entire vaccination programme, with the aid of the AKSG, is privately funded and there is no governmental funding in this process.
As a gauge, in Akwa Ibom in Nigeria, a dose of Prevnar 13 vaccine costs between 30,000 and 35,000 Nigerian Naira, which is about USD 82 – USD 95 a dose. That cost excludes transportation, cold storage logistics, and administering the vaccines (including hiring and training of doctors & nurses).
Karan Tilani has disbursed the funds to DINNødhjælp. The vaccines are currently being procured from Pfizer, and Pfizer shall work with DINNødhjælp and ACAEDF to distribute the PREVNAR 13® prefilled syringes to primary health centers in the state of Akwa Ibom. The first group of children will be administered with the vaccines soon, since the complex logistics involve the secure transportation of the vaccines that has to be done in cooler boxes and cold storage has to be available in the health centers to preserve the quality of the vaccines.
The vaccines will be stored at centralized cold chain stores where it will distributed to Primary Health Operation Bases, in the width and breath of the Akwa Ibom state to use it for the children in need.
Currently, the government’s efforts are mainly visible in the state of Lagos, where children receive free medical treatment to cure pneumonia. This is an initiative by the Lagos State Government and not the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The only other state now that will receive free medical treatment to cure pneumonia is the Akwa Ibom state, of which Karan Tilani is the sponsor of this mission. Karan Tilani will partner with ACAEDF, DINNødhjælp and the Ministry of Health, Akwa Ibom State Government. The partnership will extend to the Association of Public Health Physician of Nigeria (APHPN) [Akwa Ibom state chapter] which will identify and locate the primary health centers that will receive the vaccines. This organization is empowered by the law to oversee public health issues of which immunization like this comes under. This organization will also serve as the monitoring and evaluation mechanism on curing pneumonia, and then reporting to ACAEDF for upward transmission to the sponsor, Karan Tilani.
Eradicating pneumonia from Akwa Ibom is targeted over a window 1 to 5 years.
Doctors and staffs are sourced locally but there are arrangements underway to partner with Doctors without Borders, so we can have visiting doctors from them. There are also plans to get doctors and nurses from Denmark who will also come occasionally to assist the local doctors.
Dajuloume Company and Dearlu Integrated Services are the construction companies engaged to rebuild the hospital.
The long-term plan is to ensure that these children are self-sufficient and part of this process includes educating them. Currently, the children at the Land of Hope, they go to public schools. These are the list of schools which the children are enlisted in, depending on their age group.
Categories of schools include Nursery, Primary, Secondary, High Schools and Universities.
Nursery and Primary Category:
(1) Character and Skill Nursery and Primary schools
(2) Visef International Academy
(3) Diamond City Global School
(4) Government Primary School, Idung Offiong
Secondary or High Schools:
(1) Government Secondary Commercial School Ikot Usekong
(2) Dayspring Comprehensive College
(3) Saint Mary Science School
(4) Holy Family College
(1) Federal Polytechnic Nekede
(2) University of Calabar
(3) University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State University