Friday, August 03, 2007

One hundred and one Swaziland destinations- #13: Matsanjeni

Matsanjeni is one of the health referral centers in the Shiselwini region of Swaziland, essentially making up the bottom third of the country. It is a dry hilly part of the world. If I were to do a watercolor of the landscape this time of year, water and an earthy brown color would suffice. In late winter, the only exceptions to this are the colorful woolen clothing of the inhabitants and the bright orange flowers that adorn the area’s large and ubiquitous aloe plants.

Otherwise, it is a dry land of diluted browns.

Of course, the pied spring will come soon enough. Then, the toaster-oven-summer.

During this time, it is my hope that Nurse Rita and I will be able to entice the children of surrounding Shiselwini to come in for HIV testing and treatment. As of now, they only have thirty something children on ARVs, and this represents but a small fraction of the catchment area’s infected children.

For this reason, every 2 weeks, I make the two-hour drive to Matsanjeni to mentor Nurse Rita, who is very comfortable with ART in adults but timid when it comes to pediatric HIV care.

Over the past two months, Rita has begun to schedule children on the day that I am scheduled to visit. On my first day at the health center, there was one child. Last week, there were six. Next time Rita expects to double that.

When the rains have come and gone and the colorful but punishing summer replaces the cool dusty earthtones of wintertime Matsanjeni, I am confident that we will be sweating alongside several dozen newly-discovered pediatric patients.

When the weather again begins to cool, I will have taught Rita all that I know, and she will be ready to manage HIV+ children herself.


Matsanjeni is one of three outreach sites where I have worked.See the following links for the other two:

One hundred and one Swaziland destinations #9: St. Phillips
One hundred and one Swaziland destinations #10: Shewula



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