Sunday, August 10, 2008

One hundred and one Swaziland destinations - #25 Nhlangano

There are the well-served, the underserved and there are the unserved (the good, bad, and ugly, if you will).

Two and a half years ago, HIV positive children in Swaziland were crowded on the ugly end of this spectrum. Since Baylor’s arrival, these children have been shifting slowly. A recent email from a colleague, Dan Dewey, gives an interesting snapshot of his first experienes at Swaziland's Nlangano Health Centre as he witnessed (and catalyzed) this transition.

He wrote:
"On my frst day of outreach clinic, there were two children there. Now, a few months later, [the clinic] is overflowing. Some days half of the children have TB. Many are malnourished and most are not yet on treatment. There is still bad rumor around Nhlangano that nothing can be done for HIV positive children prior to 18 months of age, except maybe treating opportunistic infections. The health center is overwhelmed with sick people, HIV exposed babies, etc. There is a lot of need.”

When it comes to health services, the good, bad and ugly might be thought of as “needs met”, “we are getting there”, and “needs ignored.” Well, thanks to Dr Dan Dewey and Baylor, things are becoming less ugly for the HIV (and TB) infected children of Nlangano.

We are getting there. We must get there.

PS: If you have never been to Nhlangano (chances ar you haven't), check out this amateur video. It demonstrates that we are not talking about a desert, bush, or jungle. This is a town, a town without adequate medical care for the thousands of sick children in its catchment area.

YouTube - Nhlangano, Swaziland