Thursday, March 8, 2012
Today was a good day. Still at the rural hospital in Kabudula (translating to "short trousers" in Chichewa), we saw a variety of cases. First off, it was good to see that the toddler with severe pneumonia was doing better. Her mom was very happy that she seemed to have turned the corner. We saw two women pregnant with twins and tried to decide how far along they were in their pregnancy and when they should deliver. Twin pregnancy increases risk for maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality, especially in places like Malawi, which has some of the highest rates of mother and baby mortality in the world. We saw a handful of women who were miscarrying and needed a procedure to complete this difficult process. Aubrey saw patients referred to him by the medical assistants with ailments ranging from infertility to hand infections to heart failure. And he handled them all, with three years of post high school education.
I headed to the secondary school after a lunch of rice and beans to meet with the peer counseling group, part of the amazing program that Sarah Greenberg from WAM started. This fantastic group of 16 orphaned or vulnerable kids meet once a week to decide how best to help their peers stay in school. They excitedly told me how they plan to be teachers, nurses, radio announcers, and doctors. The odds are clearly stacked against them. Coming from a school with few books, no lab, no computers, and little support from family, they have a Herculean task to overcome (if you want to learn more check out the KEEP program at www.worldalteringmedicine.org).
Next I gave an HIV and dermatology lecture to the clinicians at Kabudula hospital. No one snored, which means it was a riveting talk. Or that Malawians don't snore when they sleep.
To wrap up the day we saw an ancient woman with undiagnosed Parkinson's disease who fractured both her lower legs when a wall in her house fell on her while she slept. On the way out of the ward, we met a man carrying his fourteen year old daughter toward us. She had a history of epilepsy and had been seizing every day for the last three months since her health center had run out of anti-seizure medications. She now had a new diagnosis of malaria, to add yet another condition to cause further seizures. As I purchase medications that the hospital has been out of (sometimes for months), I'm floored by the price of them. A dose of medicine called misoprostol to stop life-threatening bleeding after a woman delivers costs about 75 cents. The other day, on eBay, someone bought a three-year old Chicken McNugget that resembles George Washington for $8,000 dollars.
If you'd like to support Kabudula, reduce maternal mortality, and put orphans through high school, please be on the look-out for quality McNuggets.