Monday, June 1, 2009

Someone call the doctor

video


I do apologize for that video blog and promise you, at the request of my mom, that my next one be much more uplifting.

I’ve already admitted that last year I gained so much perspective from my trip that this time around I wanted to help you gain some perspective and get to know Africa on a different level apart from what you see on TV or in movies.

And I guess this is it.

Strokes are extremely common here, a result of endemic high blood pressures that are probably the result of a very unbalanced diet in the region.

I’ve noticed that although commercials on TV show you the suffering of children (probably because that pulls on your heartstrings the most and gets you to open your wallet wider) the elderly suffer in painful silence.

Last year, because I worked at the crèches, I saw more sick children and rarely saw adults. Now, on home-based care, I’ve really been shocked by the way the elderly suffer.

This is not to say that the old are always abandoned. There have been at least three instances while I’ve been here that I’ve seen children abandoned. It's just that society back in Canada so often caters to the aging baby boomer population that it is such a juxtaposition with this society that has no infrastructure for the elderly.

This day was tougher than others just because of a combination of many factors. Normally home based care has a very uplifting house visit that counteracts the emotions brought on by a heart wrenching one.

And of course, learning from Jenna has been a great experience. She just graduated and is now a doctor so she’s been teaching me so much about dressing wounds and diagnosing the symptoms we keep seeing over and over again, mostly TB.

Which brings me to the last girl in the video, suffering from TB. This is the fourth individual we’ve seen with active, contagious TB and they all generally look like she does.

It has been suggested that this region has the highest HIV and TB co-infection rate in the world and it’s obvious with every passing day that it’s a problem. Mostly because TB medication is a strict six month regimen and people are reluctant to stay on the meds that long, can’t get to the clinic to receive their full rounds, or the clinic runs out of medication to give them.

It’s frustrating to see the faltering healthcare system in the country. But there is a silver lining; the construction of the new clinic in Khula is supposed to be finished by the end of the year and hopefully African Impact can expand upon their medical project to involve volunteers working at the new state clinic. There is hope for the future!

Until next time

-A

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