Friday, November 6, 2009


It doesn’t matter how long I have been here. There are some days that I am just dumbfounded by what I hear and see. Times that I find myself asking, “Why is this happening?!” Times when I just want to bang my head against the wall because it doesn’t make any sense. Let me share with you some of those frustrations.
-20 year old comes in for an obstetric ultrasound. This is her fourth pregnancy. She only has one living child, the other two dies as infants.
-A man is told he has cancer but we don’t have the drugs or resources to treat cancer at our hospital. He needs to travel to Nairobi, 8 hours away, to get proper treatment but he doesn’t have the money to travel there.
-A sick woman needs to be admitted to the hospital for further treatment but she doesn’t have the $12 for the admission fee. So she goes home and asks family and friends to borrow some money. Once she has collected enough money (which can take days or weeks) she then returns to the hospital. By this point she’s very weak. Shortly after arriving at the hospital she passes away. (Its not unusual to hear about patients dying on their way to the hospital or at our front door.)
-A man has a spiral fracture of his tibia. An hour after x-raying him I see him standing outside washing his clothes.-A teen finally gets tested for HIV. It comes back positive and he’s started on ARVs. After a few months he stops taking them because he can no longer afford to travel to the hospital to get the weekly/monthly supply of medication. (ARVs are completely free thanks to Catholic Relief Services)
-An HIV positive mother continues to breastfeed her baby beyond the recommended first 6 months and risks transmitting HIV because she has nothing else to feed him/her. The child ends up testing HIV positive by age 2.
-Students becoming pregnant is common, sometimes it is the result of teacher/student relationships.
-X-raying a toddler and an hour or two later I see the child being rolled away to the morgue.- A woman fractured her arm. She was beaten by a neighbor. The neighbor’s cow was on her property and eating her crops so she whipped it trying to get it to leave. The owner saw this and didn’t approve so he beat the woman.
-A newly admitted patient has never seen a toilet before today. All of her life she has squatted over a hole. She doesn’t know which way to sit on it, and she doesn’t know how to flush. Hand washing is a foreign concept. (Cholera outbreaks are a problem. No running water in the region=no flush toilets and little hand washing)
-Life expectancy is decreasing. Its now 47 years old, compared to 52 a few years ago. Anyone over 50 is considered elderly.
-Most of the community does not have health insurance. They cannot afford to pay 160 Shillings a month to cover their entire family. ($2 USD)
-HIV positive mother doesn’t want her newborn to be put on a HIV prophylaxis because then her husband will know that the wife is positive. Which means the woman has been unfaithful, or the husband is also positive and they aren’t revealing their status to each other.
-A woman doesn’t want oxygen placed on her ill husband because she had another sick relative who was given oxygen and he shortly died after that.
-Teen pregnancy is common. Oftentimes these girls are orphans and can barley support themselves. How are they going to support another life?
-Parents die of AIDS leaving the children to be looked after by the grandmother. The elderly grandmother can’t do it so the oldest child drops out of school to care for the siblings and the ailing grandparent.
-Single moms turn to prostitution in order to put food on the table for their children. They then get infected, die, and the children become orphans.

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