Each morning this week, we (Amanda and Sue) had the privilege of taking a 45 minute drive consisting of perfectly shaped fluffy clouds, lush green foliage and local villagers walking the roads to the Sefula Health Center. The road to the clinic is surrounded by several schools, local homes, dogs and children. It was a perfectly painted picture. We were amazed and humbled to see how many hundreds of people were out walking, starting their day by 7:30 a.m.
To add to the delightful picturesque experience, we had the opportunity to walk down to the Sefula village on one of our breaks. At the end of the road the street narrows to a path that leads you to the flood plains, whose beauty cannot be translated into writing with their breathtaking views.
The clinic itself consists of the OPD (emergency) and HIV/ART Clinic on one side, and MCH (mother child health) on the other. Monday, Amanda was placed in OPD and it was BUSY. The clinic is closed on the weekend so this is typical for Monday mornings. She spent the day with a certified employee who basically assessed, diagnosed and prescribed medications for patients. While working with him, Amanda could not believe the knowledge and skill from a person who wasn't a trained medical professional. For example, a llittle boy walked in to be seen at the clinic and right away the employee told Amanda that "this boy has malaria". Amanda performed a malaria test and sure enough the result was positive.
On Wednesday, we got to be part of family planning which is like sexual education in Canada. It is a day where women are empowered with birth control knowledge and then given the choice of different contraceptive methods much like we do in Canada. The idea is that women should plan the births of their children in appropriate succession allowing the best care for each child born to that mother. As the speaker pointed out it is not easy to care for a small toddler, while breast feeding and being pregnant on top of that. The woman who taught the family planning was engaging and had all the women laughing their heads off; this appears to be quite the skill here in Mongu. We have noticed a majority of women tend to be shy and it was so nice to see how connected the speaker was with the crowd of women. We then had the opportunity to help Precious give depo provera injections for birth control which was a task we wouldn't get to do back home.
Precious was the nurse working in MCH while we spent our week there and she was nothing but welcoming to us during this time. She engaged and included us in all activities in MCH, was a knowledgable learning resource and made us feel comfortable to ask questions when they arose. Welcoming and passionate staff like Precious are what largely impacts our nursing practice, enhances our nursing knowledge and creates positive memories in our hearts that we will always remember.
Lastly, Amanda got to perform her first vaginal exam on a woman in labor which was exciting for her as it was a new skill she had not practised in Canada yet. Although she was nervous and unsure if she was feeling what she was supposed to feel, the fact that Precious involved and supported her with this learning opportunity was incredible.
More and more with our time here, we are exposed to and offered opportunities that we would never get in Canada which makes the experience more than well worth it.
Overall, it is fantastic to have clinics like Sefula to provide care to the many catchment areas. The Sefula Clinic captures 9 major areas seen in the photo we posted, which is making a strong decreasing impact on the ever present barrier of access to health care here in Africa. We are more than thankful to have experienced a health care practicum here at the Sefula Health Clinic and look forward to see what next week has in store for us.