The average life expectancy for a Zambian is 38 years, ranking the third lowest in the world. Why is this? While we can put much of the blame on HIV/AIDS, the infection rate of many other diseases must also be factored in, for example:
Malaria...............3 million per year
Tuberculosis........80,000 have active TB yearly
Hepatitis B..........12 % of the total population
Many of these diseases can be prevented through awareness programs. Unfortunately, since Zambia has many indigenous beliefs and traditions, educating or changing the mentality of how things are done is no small task.
Amy holds health seminars with women from the community. Topics include:
Basic education on different types of illness
Healthy natural remedies and preventions
Cleanliness and hygiene
Because of traditions and culture, we have to address what are common misconceptions. For instance, one of the teachings that are introduced here is that vegetables give you worms so you shouldn't eat them much. Our maid was even given this message at the local hospital! So we have to explain over and over how different diseases are introduced and how to prevent them.
We explain that health is determined by proper diet. We teach about the different food groups and how you need vegetables, fruit, protein and starch each day. This is a bit difficult in a poor country as there is not money to spare for eating right. So we encourage them to grow a small vegetable garden near the house to help in this. Also teaching them how to use the money they do have in the smartest way in order to get the right types of food. For example, for the money that you spend on a soda you can buy two or three eggs.
Many people have the idea that it is too expensive to live a healthy life. They don't want to take vitamins because their appetite may increase. They think that in order to be healthy requires a lot of money. We teach them to use inexpensive items like salt, soap and water to prevent or treat most common illness.