My Day Out

Doctor's Day out!

Sunday, August 24th was the day when I along with a bunch of health workers headed towards East from Dharan with the aim of setting a series of 'health camps' in the flood victims' camps. 12 Doctors and half a dozen nursing staffs had no idea what working conditions we had to expect in the camps.
The open space in front of the Inaruwa District Hospital had lots of jeeps and buses having banners of  NGOs, INGOs and few private corporates. We joined the mass. We went there because we needed some more syrups and tablets from the District Health Office. Though our 'needed' list and the supply from the office didn't match, after spending an hour or so, we rode the bus to Bhokraha, a village nearby, where our team was asked to concentrate.
After a ride for around 5 kilometers on the highway, we headed north through a rough road. Our moderator told us that we had to visit 3 camps, a primary school, a secondary school and a 'muslim' community center. On the road, all we could see was ducks and cattle roaming around, least bothered by our bus and the kids playing in the dirty water. We reached a primary school, our first camp. As our bus entered the premises, we were surrounded by semi naked kids, excited to see the well dressed bunch of guys with big boxes. They later ran away when they found out that we had no biscuits to distribute.
We were provided with tables and benches and the volunteers asked the people who were sick to see us. Soon we were seeing kids and their mothers with respiratory tract infections and kids with diarrhea. Most of the patients had fever since a few days, noses running and breathing faster. We knew what medications to give, we had the drugs with us to distribute free, but what we weren't sure the medications would be taken properly by the patients. For example, the Amoxycillin syrup we prescribed was in a bottle, in powder form. The bottle had to be filled to a certain level with clean water, shaken well and taken in a certain volume according to age and weight of the patient like 2.5 ml or 5 ml or 7.5 ml or 10 ml. Though the plastic cap over the bottle has marks for the required volume, it wouldn't be that easy for people with no education.
Similarly for diarrhoea, we distributed ORS (Jeevan Jal). For that too, the mother had to prepare it in exactly one litre of clean water to be effective. But where would the mother get exactly one litre of water and would she be washing her hands before she fed the baby? Else she would be one more carrier of diarrhoea, taking the patient to a new level of disease. So, we asked our coordinator to coordinate with the health workers there to make a ORS Corner where someone knowing what he/she is doing would prepare Jeevan Jal and distribute to the people with diarrhoea, but that seemed 'impractical'! We had similar pictures in the other two camps.
So, the patients in the flood victims' camps needed more than a doctor and medications to prevent and protect from diseases - good food, clean water, good shelter, proper clothes, slippers and ample amount of hand washing soaps. We did what we were sent there for, but we all knew that was not enough, not even close. This problem has to be handled with more 'horizontal' thinking, 'hungry - food, naked - clothes & sick – drugs' isn't the best solution.


Unknown said…
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