Thursday, June 28, 2007

One hundred and one Swaziland destinations- #10: Shewula, continued

Shewula is a health centre disguised as a cluster of farm houses. There is a ten kilometer dust road leading to the place.

Normally I would call a road of this sort a dirt road, but this one was definitely a dust road. Our vehicle left a wake of airborne powder which pedestrians (many of them patients) avoided by sticking to the upwind side of the dust road. On arrival, in the place of a sign identifying the place as a health facility, there was a rusty tractor surrounded by strutting, cackling chickens.

If there ever was a farm-like medical complex, this was it.

Shewula is but a few hops and skips from Mozambique and over a hundred kilometers from a region where people outnumber livestock.

Shewula is also where hundreds of adults and dozens of children receive their ARVs.

This past Tuesday, Dr. Carrie Golitko and I traveled there and mentored Sister Sonnie, a sharp, vivacious nurse who is essentially qualified to begin seeing pediatric patients on her own. (Baylor docs have been working with her for several months.)

After consulting the day’s pediatric patients, we gave Shewula’s six nurses a lecture on the prevention of maternal to child transmission of HIV. I found that they knew as much as I did about the medication regimens for the various clinical scenarios.

With the exception of our monthly visits, there are no doctors at Shewula.

In a country with so few physicians, this rural health centre is a heartening reminder that motivated nurses can get the job done.



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