This morning we arrived at the Rukunyu Regional Health Center to meet with Dr. Bahazi Archibald who is the head of the center.
I met him last year and he was again gracious with his time and helped us understand the many obstacles they face on a daily basis.
Financial constrains and staff issues are at the top of the list. They are only 38% staffed right now and they see no change in that in the near future. The Center currently is a Health Center IV on record in the government health system but due to lack of other nearby facilities this center actually functions as a hospital but only gets the government support for a Center IV. That feeds into the problem of finances. They receive only 40 % of the money required for the medical supplies needed for the care they provide. They are often short on medications as a result. This could all be very depressing but Dr. Archibald and his staff continue to look forward and do what they can in the present.
We discussed ways that Nurse Ruth at the school clinic can be of help. She is passionate about getting the students the vaccines they need and the Health Center can provide the vaccines for Ruth to administer to the students, teachers and staff. We will be assisting nurse Ruth in setting up a record keeping system so she can get the vaccination information back to the Health Center for government recording.
There is also a tremendous need for further education regarding communicable disease prevention with simple techniques like washing hands WITH soap and, proper use of mosquito nets (which are provided free by the government but there is not good follow up on the proper use of the nets). Sometimes they are used as “fencing” to keep in their chickens or used on the bed as a blanket rather than hung properly.
There is a 40% malnutrition rate in this region so there is a big need for nutrition education. The 2017 team will be glad to know the garden project at the school we discussed last year has been started. They have grown eggplant, green peppers, spring onions, cabbage, beets and many herbs. The students are helping tend the garden.
This afternoon we spent two hours walking with nurse Ruth through the village next to the school to get a sense of the living conditions. We saw one-room huts that sometimes house up to ten people. It’s all pretty hard to fathom, even having seen it before.