Category: Health

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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A knit and natter: “I’m enjoying making new memories”

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Tydfil sat with Janet who was the Red Cross volunteer who helped her to regain her independence

Tydfil Wood was more used to caring for others than being the one cared for. As a former district nurse in Rhondda, Wales, she had looked after many people in her community over the years – even earning herself the nickname Sister Wood.

But after the death of her husband, life became a lot lonelier for the retiree. Tydfil found herself spending a lot more time alone at home.

“I would receive visits from the family but getting out independently was a problem,” Tydfil said.

She could no longer drive because of her arthritis and eventually lost her confidence to go out altogether.

Her daughter Gaynor was concerned. But when she came across a British Red Cross project called Positive Steps, she thought it might be just what her mum needed.

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Child safety, Afghan style

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Three girls play as they pump water from a well

In the UK, keeping children safe means babyproofing your home or teaching youngsters to look both ways before crossing the road.

In Afghanistan, it could mean stopping children dying from diseases picked up from human waste.

More than just a nuisance

For most people in Britain, diarrhoea is a nuisance that can be easily treated. If a child is very badly affected, care is always available.

But in some countries, diarrhoea is life threatening.

Nearly 1.3 million children under five die from diarrhoea worldwide, making it the second most common cause of child deaths.

In fact, over half of these deaths occur in just five countries. Afghanistan is one of them.

What makes this even sadder is that children’s lives could be saved if communities had clean water, toilets and hand-washing facilities.

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Wheels of recovery: how a wheelchair helped mend a broken ice-skater

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Julie with her broken leg in a cast

When Julie Maxwell left hospital after weeks of being treated for a badly broken leg, she was keen to get home. But she dreaded being confined to the sofa.

The primary school secretary from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland had been on a trip to the Big Apple with her friend Zara-lee.

But her decision to skate around the famous ice rink at New York’s Rockefeller Centre just one last time had shattered Julie’s holiday – and leg – to pieces.

Fortunately going home was not as bad as Julie had imagined – all because of a little help from a wheelchair.

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Why ‘bed-blocking’ isn’t the real problem

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A woman lies in a hospital bed

Many patients are fit to leave hospital – but they can’t. Why? Because the right care and support isn’t available for them at home. They find themselves trapped in hospital beds – beds that are needed for new patients.

These people are commonly known as ‘bed-blockers’ – as if they themselves are the problem.

According to BBC analysis of NHS figures released today, more than one in 10 patients in England face long delays for a hospital bed after emergency admission.*

This is an issue. But let’s be clear – it is almost always never the fault of the patient. These delays are caused by pressure on health services and a lack of investment in care services for adults.

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Red Cross puts menstruation on the curriculum

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Menstrual-hygiene-day-Kenya

Menstruation matters. For menstrual hygiene day, we find out why understanding menstruation is so important by visiting a Kenyan school that has got pupils talking about the previously taboo subject.

Stood outside her classroom in the scorching midday sun, Betty Cherotich suddenly becomes very animated when I ask her about menstrual hygiene issues in her community.

“I used to hide my sanitary products from my husband,” she proclaims. “Even I didn’t know the full facts about menstruation.” More

Home from hospital: time for change

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Raymond Attrell with Anna Holecz

Raymond Attrell with British Red Cross support worker Anna Holecz.

The day you get the OK to return home after being in hospital, should be a really good day. So why are some people afraid to go home?

You’ve recovered. You should be feeling better, positive and confident that you can cope with life at home – with whatever support you have arranged.

But a report has revealed that’s not always the case. Vulnerable patients, often frail or elderly, are being sent home from hospital too early – afraid and with little support.

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Why you have to call 999 the moment you suspect a stroke

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If you suspect stroke, call 999

We live in an era that values speed. These days you can have almost super-fast anything – from broadband to noodle soup.

It’s important to be speedy within the world of first aid too – especially when it comes to treating someone for stroke.

One stroke happens every three minutes and 27 seconds in the UK*. That’s about the same time it takes to microwave popcorn.

The good news is we can all very easily help someone having a stroke.

You just need to be able to spot it and call 999. Fast.

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