- Gertrude's Children's Hospital - https://www.gerties.org -

5 Ways Your Child Can Stay Healthy

    1. Eat a Variety of FoodsYou may have a favourite food, but the best choice is to eat a variety. If you eat different foods, you are more likely to get the nutrients your body needs. Taste new foods and old ones you have not tried for a while. Some foods, such as green vegetables, may taste better the older you get. But that does not mean children do not need to take vegetables. It is good to make sure your meal has a big portion of vegetables. These may include spinach, sukuma wiki, amaranth, broccoli, carrots (raw or steamed and many others that are popular with your family or culture). Always eat fruits that are in season. Remember a banana a day, just like an apple, keeps the doctor away.
    2. Drink Water and MilkWhen you are really thirsty, cold water is the best thirst-quencher. Kids need calcium to build strong bones, and milk is a great source of this mineral. How much do kids need? If you are over 1 year old a packet of milk a day is adequate.If you want something other than milk or water once in a while, it is okay to have 100% fruit juice but not juices with preservatives. Avoid sugary drinks like sodas, preserved juice cocktails, and fruit punches. They contain a lot of added sugar. Sugar just adds calories and not any important nutrients.
    3. Listen to Your BodyWhat does it feel like to be full? When you are eating, notice how your body feels and when your stomach feels comfortably full. Sometimes, people eat too much because they do not notice when they need to stop eating. Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortable and can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
    4. Limit Screen TimeWhat’s screen time? It is the amount of time you spend watching TV or DVDs, playing video games (console systems or handheld games), and using a smart phone, tablet, or computer. The more time you spend on these sitting-down activities, the less time you have for activities like basketball, bike riding, and swimming. Try to spend no more than 2 hours a day on screen time, not counting computer use related to school and educational activities.
    5. Be ActiveOne job you have as a kid, and it is fun – is that you get to figure out which activities you like best. Not everyone loves baseball or soccer. Maybe your passion is karate, or rugby or dancing. Ask your parents to help you do your favourite activities regularly. Find ways to be active every day. You might even write down a list of fun stuff to do, so you can use it when your mom or dad says it is time to stop watching TV or playing computer games!Speaking of parents, they can be a big help if you want to be a fit kid. For instance, they can stock the house with healthy foods and plan physical activities for the family. Tell your parents about these five ways or steps to remain healthy and maybe you can teach them a thing or two.


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I remember a day not too long ago when I sat in the salon getting my hair ready for a function. All of a sudden, my hairdresser and other people in the salon were drawn to some commotion occurring in the street where the salon overlooked. There was a lot of shouting going on and it took me a moment before I realised that there was a young man standing on the edge of the roof across from us and he wanted to jump. The response from those who noticed him was not the reaction we often see depicted on Western films- ‘please…do not jump…we can talk about this; It is not too late.’ It was the complete opposite. Many passers-by on foot were egging him to jump. Others implored him to jump quickly so that they can get back to their business of the day. ruka! Unajiskia kuhepa mashida…ruka tena mara mbili! Mwoga wewe! Sasa nini wewe?’ (Jump, so you want to escape your problems; jump, you coward!)

It has been the myth that Kenyans have 99 problems but depression isn’t one of them. I mean what could be worse than corruption really? For a long time our society has ascribed to stoicism in the face of any ailment that has no physical manifestation. For a lot of people in our country, if stoicism does not work, they turn to religion and traditional remedies as a cure for the unseen and the little understood. If that does not work, it is blamed on one’s age- teenagers have unpredictable emotions and tend to be withdrawn and of course, if you are middle-aged, you must go through a crisis, right?

* Depression is a common mental illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for 14 days or longer. In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following:

loss of energy;
change in appetite;
sleeping more or sleeping less than usual;
reduced concentration;
feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness;
thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

*WHO Depression: Let’s Talk website

Depression is one of those disorders that are so stigmatized in our society, that it has for a long time been discussed only in hushed tones. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression all over the world. It is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Depression is a risk factor for suicide and it has been noted that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in persons aged 15-29 years of age.

Kenya is noted to have a predominantly young population and we cannot afford to ignore depression. If you notice two or more of the symptoms mentioned above in yourself, a friend or a family member, kindly have an assessment by a mental health practitioner- a psychologist, a professionally trained counselor or a psychiatrist.

As for the young man mentioned earlier…he did not die, but he was tackled off the roof and once he was brought down to the street, some of the men in the crowd gave him a beating within an inch of his life. I now know, as a society we should have started by talking to him and facilitated him to get professional help and follow-up through counseling services.

*Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital counseling department caters to the needs of persons aged 10 to 21 years of age as well as parents and caregivers.

Launch of the Gertrude’s Paediatric Audiology Centre

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The Gertrude’s Paediatric Audiology Centre was officially opened by Her Excellency Mette Knudsen, the Royal Danish Ambassador to Kenya, on 24th February, 2016. The centre is a modern facility that aims to diagnose, treat and manage children with varying degrees of hearing impairment. The centre also offers services such as hearing aid treatment, intervention by speech therapists and inclusion of parents (family-centered intervention), thus helping to develop better language and communication skills. This form of holistic treatment approach will give the children a better chance in life.

Oticon A/S and DANIDA Business Partnerships formed a collaboration with Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, Kenya in 2012 to launch a hearing screening program across three health facilities in Kenya to identify, treat and rehabilitate infants and children with moderate, severe and profound hearing impairment. The two additional facilities are Machakos Level 5 and Thika Level 5 Hospitals.

To-date, Oticon A/S and DANIDA have invested nearly Kshs. 40 Million towards the screening program for children in Kenya. These funds have been channeled towards the training of staff, purchasing equipment, setting up the hearing care center, providing hearing aids to children with hearing impairment and increasing awareness of the screening program.