Category: Health

The power of a gran in Afghanistan

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Three women wearing Afghan Red Crescent pinneys and holding drawings of a mother and child sit on the floor in a row

If you were a granny in Afghanistan, you would be one of the most influential and respected members of your community.

“Afghan grandmothers are valued authority figures,” said Justin Dell, Afghanistan country manager at the British Red Cross.

“Many younger women in rural communities have to do what others tell them to do, particularly their fathers or husbands.

“But everyone will listen to grandmothers and follow their advice.

“This includes men, many of whom are the women’s own husbands, sons or sons-in-law.”

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Diabetes in a war zone: how the Red Cross helps in Yemen

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Close-up of Ayman, a boy with diabetes in Yemen

Ayman

What happens when you have diabetes and your country falls apart?

When your home is bombed, over half of hospitals and medical centres close and there is no clean water?

Living like this would be hard for anyone, but if your diabetes means you need insulin every day, it is catastrophic.

This is the situation in Yemen, where estimates say that 900,000 people have diabetes and most depend on insulin.

Yet a conflict that has been raging for more than 18 months has restricted entry of all medicine into Yemen.

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Students: Are you sure that’s freshers’ flu and not meningitis?

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A group of students are sat in a communal area of their accommodation. One of them is showing signs of meningitis.

The new academic term is a time for meeting fresh faces, getting to grips with new timetables… and freshers’ flu. But are you sure that’s what your flu-like symptoms are?

Students sometimes miss the signs of a much more serious illness known as meningitis because its symptoms are similar to that of freshers’ flu – the collective coughs, fevers and viruses caught during your first few weeks at university.

Meningitis is rare – but can be life threatening. Students are at more risk of it because they often live in close proximity to one another.

So if you’re heading to university this month, make sure you know the signs.

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The health and social care crisis: Joyce’s story

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Joyce Hall with a Red Cross volunteer who helped her regain her independence after she broke her arm Joyce waited an agonising two days before going to hospital with a badly broken arm. She couldn’t just go to the hospital – she had her younger brother to think about.

As the sole carer for Lenny, who has epilepsy and learning difficulties, she was worried about leaving him alone. He was unable to do everyday tasks like getting dressed and feeding himself.

But after two days of pain she had little choice.

The British Red Cross met Joyce for the first time when she was discharged from the hospital and referred to our support at home service.

We were able to help her not just through her recovery, but find more support for her and Lenny from other services in the long-term too.

But with six consecutive years of budget cuts and an increasing demand on health and social care services, the system in England has become unsustainable. The care people like Joyce and Lenny need, is at risk.

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Slime, mountains and miles: how far would you go to tackle loneliness?

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co-op_snowdon

Tackling loneliness is no mean feat. It’s a complicated and personal issue which can also carry an unfair degree of stigma. So where to start?

It’s been a year since the British Red Cross first announced we would be working in partnership with Co-op to help tackle loneliness and social isolation. By October, we were ready to get our partnership fully underway.

We started by looking at what we knew about loneliness, what we didn’t, and what we needed to. We involved other experts in this process along with people who have experienced loneliness.

Meanwhile Co-op rounded up its staff, members and customers to unleash what would become an incredible stream of fundraising activity.

And it turns out Co-op’s people are prepared to go pretty far to help tackle these issues.

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AIDS today: therapy brings hope

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World-AIDS-day-6

When you look at the facts surrounding the global AIDS epidemic, there seem to be many reasons for hope.

More people have access to antiretroviral therapy, which slows the reproduction of the virus and enables those with HIV to lead normal lives.

  • In 2015, 17 million people living with HIV were undergoing antiretroviral therapy, up from 15 million in 2014.
  • 49 per cent of children living with HIV had access to treatment in 2015, up from 21 per cent in 2010.

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Speaking for those who cannot: supporting survivors of sexual violence

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Three women stand with their backs to the viewer on dusty ground in Africa with only their long skirts and feet showing

“When I went to Pascaline’s parents to ask for her hand, they agreed even though I only had half the dowry. When we got married, we were in love.”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jacques still speaks about his wife Pascaline with love.

“Years went by, we had children, and we were still happy together,” he continues.

Then Pascaline was raped by armed men at the side of the road. They stole everything she had.

“I felt like dying. I never imagined this would happen,” she said

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A hug, a smile and Elmo: helping children in Fiji

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A girl in Fiji smiles as she gets a hug from an Elmo puppet almost as big as she is

What does Elmo have to do with cyclones in Fiji?

More than you might guess.

On 20 and 21 February, Tropical Cyclone Winston smashed into Fiji with winds of up to 325 kilometres an hour.

Approximately 350,000 people were affected. Around 120,000 of them were children.

When it was over, 28,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Some families lost everything.

Thousands of children now go to school in tents because their school buildings are no longer standing.

Some children were so terrified by the cyclone that they are still scared of any rain.

They may even start to run in panic – across roads, into rivers – to escape.

This is where Elmo and his friends can help.

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