Nigerien Air Base 201, Niger -- The 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron medical section conducted a three-day women’s hygiene class for 25 women from the Association of Nigerien Women Against War from Aug. 12 to Aug. 14 in Agadez, Niger.
This class came at the request of the association after an initial dental hygiene class.
“Topics discussed included feminine health, family planning, the importance of using soap, etc.,” said Maj. Leslie Lovett, 724th EABS public health officer. “The healthcare situation in Niger is not the same as in the U.S., so we can bring our knowledge and experience to benefit our neighbors.”
The association teaches women important skills to strengthen their families to decrease the appeal of extremist recruiting.
“There’s a high fertility rate and infant mortality rate in Niger, coupled with widespread poor hygiene practices and a general lack of resources, something the Ministry of Family Planning is trying to change,” said Capt. Long Santoso, 724th EABS critical care physician. “Explaining the why behind everything we recommend was surprising at first, but we realize we just have different cultural experiences.”
The medical staff also provided hygiene kits to the women, which included hand sanitizer, soap and anti-bacterial wipes.
“We’re not in our bacteria free bubble like in the states,” said Tech. Sgt. Becky Smith, 724th EABS surgical technician. “There’s communicable diseases and malaria present in the area, so providing this knowledge to these women we hope will better enable them to make more informed decisions about their healthcare and general hygiene decisions.”
After the class, all the women who participated completed a written test over the topics discussed and received certificates of completion.
“To see the smiles on their faces when they got their certificates and knowing they can walk away from this experience with more knowledge and a better understanding of how to improve the quality of their lives makes all the effort worth it,” Lovett said.
The medical section hopes to have more classes in the future with the women’s association and cover more healthcare topics that will further improve on the health and welfare of the residents of Agadez and its surrounding communities.