Baby Drissa’s close call

Baby Drissa WaterAid/Guilhem Alandry

Baby Drissa is only three months old but he is unfortunately already pretty familiar with his local health care centre.

His parents Kotimi and Salif brought him into the healthcare centre after they started to notice sores on his chest.

“I noticed that some days after the birth, the baby was too hot. One day when I was washing him I found a sore on his chest, and the next day I found that the sore became very large,” Kotimi said.

Kotimi and Salif initially had no idea what the cause of this problem was and returned to the health centre every two days to monitor and assess their baby’s condition. Having lost four children already in their lifetime, the farming couple braced themselves for the worst news.

“I didn’t think that the child could live. In my mind we had a dead baby,” Salif said.

Thankfully that’s not how the story unfolded. The doctor at the local healthcare centre was able to treat Drissa.

“Me and my husband and our children thought that the child would die. We had no hope. But fortunately for us the doctor was very courageous, he knew what he was doing, and he treated the child,” Kotimi said.

The doctor advised Kotimi and Salif not to wash Drissa in water as the poor quality of water was the likely cause of Drissa’s sores.

“Unfortunately for us there is no pump in our village, so we are obliged to use the well in our compound to wash,” Kotimi explained. “In our village people don’t talk about microbes and other things, we don’t have any idea or notion about microbes. To our mind water from the well is just water. We take water from the well and we use it without treating it with bleach. So we just take it and use it to wash the child.”

Kotimi and Salif look forward to having WaterAid work in their region to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene situation.

“If it’s possible to have running water in our health centre here we would celebrate this, we would celebrate our happiness. It would help the doctor to do things very easily, and it would also help us women to be clean and to clean our children during deliveries very easily, so it would be a great thing if that happened in our health centre.”

WaterAid is working with communities and healthcare centres across the world, including Mali, to help babies like Drissa and their mothers to have access to the clean water, decent toilet and good hygiene services they need.

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