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Village pediatrician takes the lead in battling childhood illness

Tajikistan, February 24, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Samyra Roder/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Dr. Hasan Hojiev (right) conducts a training on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness for his colleagues at a village clinic in northern Tajikistan. Photo: Samyra Roder/Mercy Corps

Dr. Hasan Hojiev gestures passionately as he speaks about childhood illness and nutrition. He exudes the bubbly enthusiasm of a fresh medical graduate, but has been a rural pediatrician in northern Tajikistan for over ten years now. Dr. Hojiev’s passion for medicine was revived and his professional outlook transformed after participating in an in-depth training on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI).

Working closely with the Tajikistan Ministry of Health, Mercy Corps offers IMCI education to rural health providers who lack the resources or opportunity to update their practices. The IMCI approach aims to reduce child mortality and illness by training doctors, physician’s assistants and nurses to approach patient care holistically. During the 5-6 day long training, health providers discover the value of preventative care, gain expertise in proven diagnostic techniques, and learn how to better consult parents on childcare. After being evaluated by professional trainers, participants are awarded with a government-approved certificate in IMCI.

“In the village, people don’t know about specialized medicine. All they know is ‘you are a doctor, you have to help us'’,” explains Dr. Hojiev. After the IMCI training, he felt better prepared to respond to his community’s needs and provide more comprehensive pediatric care.

But Dr. Hojiev wanted to do more than just improve his own practice. Having seen the benefits of IMCI, he decided to organize another training for the medical staff in his local clinic. He was provided with learning materials and guidance by Mercy Corps, as well as support from local leaders. Fifteen doctors and physician’s assistants came together to learn from their colleague, volunteering their free time to help improve the quality of care at their clinic. In his lectures, Dr. Hojiev focused on how to apply IMCI to tackle the toughest childhood illnesses in the area — acute respiratory infections and diarrhea.

Dr. Hojiev has already seen the change in his village. With newfound confidence, medical staff are effectively communicating with their patients; mothers are loyally following doctors’ treatment plans; and children are being brought to the clinic for follow-up.

Dr. Hojiev is eager to continue teaching. Now, he is planning a seminar for young mothers and midwives about breastfeeding and nutrition.