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Dani’s African Adventure

November 8, 2010

Here’s a brief outline of what happened when a group of international and local medical staff and volunteers got together in June – July 2010 in Port Victoria and set up a 5-day free medical clinic and prescribed drugs, open for all who could make it through it’s doors.  

On the first day of the clinic, we arrived at around 7am with over a hundred people waiting for us. Crowd control was essential. Set up was needed for the various clinic functions: Admissions, Clinic, Pharmacy, Nutrition/ORT (Oral Rehydration Therapy). Massive suitcases containing donated medications, syringes and first-aid supplies needed organising in the pharmacy. More and more people kept arriving, and it was past 10 by now and the patients were growing less patient by the minute. The three Kenyan doctors we’d recruited, plus Casey, a med student at Tulane, and the handful of local nurses we’d hired, finally begun seeing patients.

A few of the volunteers managed to grab hold of a few bottles of deworming pills – enough for a thousand or so children in a nearby school from the first through eighth grade. Each child had to take a tablet to kill internal parasites, and most of these kids surely harboured at least one of the main types of parasites so common in the area: schistosomes, helminths, pinworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms and more.

The limited amounts of oral rehydration salt sachets were flying off the pharmacy shelves. Before leaving for Kenya I’d written and illustrated a load of leaflets in English and Swahili, with instructions and diagrams on how to mix oral rehydration solution – a simple mixture of salt, sugar and clean water – the salt to replace lost sodium, the sugar to ensure its absorption in the intestines. It is so simple and saves lives all over the developing world, where diarrhoea (and associated dehydration) is the second biggest cause of death among children under 5. We dragged a table outside to where people were clustered around the pharmacy window waiting for their prescriptions. There, with the help of a translator, I presented an ORT demonstration and passed out the leaflets. The doctors would refer patients to the Nutrition/ORT office for a one-on-one consultations ranging from diabetes and hypertension to breastfeeding and weaning.

We wrapped up on the 5th day and donated what was left of the medicine to the hospital that kindly offered us space to carry out the clinic. It was hard work but managed to have a blast. Until next year… watch this space.

Overall over 2,000 people showed up, 1,000 were treated, $100k of medication was donated, and 1,500+ children were dewormed.
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