Monday, March 28, 2016

A letter to Canada

Dear Canada,

Words can never fully describe how privileged you are to have a healthcare system that is organized, compassionate, resourceful, comprehensive and accessible. Though the healthcare system in Mongu is different and complex it is resilient and determined.

If you were to spend a week in the medical ward at Lewanika General Hospital, you would become familiar with death. Not just any death, you would see younger populations dying instead of what  you are most accustomed to. They die from diseases like HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other general medical conditions (heart failure, liver cirrhosis, etc.) that are known to you.

You would see a lack of resources. You would notice no oxygen on the walls - instead just a single machine that doesn't currently work. You would see hospital beds often covered in linens that patients family members bring from home since the hospital can only provide so many. You would notice the empty shelves where some medications should be.

But you would also witness a strong family presence. Most patients have a minimum of one family member at their bedside. The family members do not passively observe care but help to change the patient's position, help them to remain clean, even assist them to walk. On one occasion you would witness family helping with a complete "bay change" as they lifted the bed into the rightful location. You would know how important family is to the Zambian people just by seeing how they help their loved ones through their illness. Illness truly affects the whole family here.

You would witness nurses being creative and inventive in providing their care. They have perfected how to use every piece of equipment that they have as completely as they can. Nurses would collaborate as though they were a single person. They would exchange tasks or provide care seamlessly and without any regard for who was initially assigned what patient. They are inquisitive and willing to answer questions about diseases that you have never experienced.  They courageously enter day after day to combat infectious disease and to care for their patients. You would see how determined they are to make a difference and how hopeful they are in the healing of their patients.

Although it is a different system, hospital, and population, it is continually progressing forward with hope and determination. This Canada is what makes Mongu so strong.



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