Hit by the reality of life in Malawi (again)
I thought I was getting more and more used to the reality of life in Malawi, but over the last 2 weeks it, again, really hit me in the face and touched my heart.
Last weekend I went with some friends for a nice picnic up Zomba Plateau; gorgeous weather, nice sandwiches, good company, lots of fresh fruits and a car to drive up the plateau… what a blessings. Especially when you see fathers, mothers, grandfathers and –mothers, teenage boys and girls and even little kids walking down the plateau with a heavy load of wood on their head. And then you realise they are walking barefooted, in the middle of the day, and this is probably their only way of making an income. For your interest, the plateau is about 2000m high.
Also when you walk or drive through the streets of Blantyre, you see street vendors everywhere. I have to admit I find them often a bit annoying, but then again… this is their only way of making a living.
And just now, when I’m writing this blog, one of the guards knocked on the door asking for money to pay his rent. It is so hard to deal with poverty especially when it comes so close. My heart is broken and I really wish I could help everyone, but I’m already giving up, or better investing my time and money in Malawi… I so wish I could do more though…
But also the poor conditions of the healthcare in Malawi hit me in the face again. Lack of medicines and lack of other medical supplies; always short of gloves and sutures. No money to buy new linen drapes as almost all of them have holes in it. Lack of good surgical instruments. Lots of Operating Lights are broken en there is none to replace them. Error on the diathermy machine over and over again. It seems it’s getting worse since I came here in February.
But another thing that bothers, but also a bit frustrates me is the work attitude of Healthcare workers. To me it seems they don’t care the same about the patients as we do in the West. They much more care about themselves; make sure they have nice long breaks and don’t miss out on lunch and make sure they don’t work too hard for their money. While there are patients on the table they just disappear without telling anyone. They go shopping or checking their bank account in the middle of the day. This is also one reason we never get through the daily Operating lists of patients and patients are bumped off the list every day.
The second reason is, we see lots and lots of emergencies coming in, but because we don’t have an Emergency Operating Theatre they are just added to the already existing Operating list. So, again a lot of scheduled patients are cancelled. Oh btw ‘added to’ here means that in the end these emergency patients just replace the already scheduled patients.
And the third reason is lack of communication between the different departments and lack of preparation. Therefore patients are often cancelled the morning of surgery because there is no blood, or the right surgeon isn’t around, or the right equipment isn’t there etc.
The question that came to my mind over and over again this last week; ‘How can I help changing this and is this ever gonna change?’ And yes, I’m struggling with this.
Thanks for reading my blog and supporting me!
PS: wondering how the story with the guard ended? I woke up this morning about 4am after some restless sleep. Decided to go outside and give him the 4000MK (about 20 euro) he needed to pay his rent today.