April 22, 2016: A Blog Post by Makenzie
Today was baby day at The Masindi Kitara Medical Clinic (MKMC) and it sure was a baby filled morning. While the clinic normally operates under a fee for service model it holds a free vaccine clinic for infants to children 6 years old each Friday. They also track the children’s growth, give basic counseling on nutrition and offer mosquito nets for malaria prevention. We had the opportunity to be involved with the documentation and administration of some of the oral vaccines as well as helping weigh some of the children. Some of the mothers were very eager to let us hold their babies and we were just as eager to do the holding.
While they do receive some of the same vaccinations children receive in the Unites States there are also some differences. Currently Hep B and the rotavirus vaccine are unavailable from the government, which leaves a large gap in the care of these children.
They also receive BCG, a vaccine aimed at preventing complications from TB BUT does not actually prevent the recipient from getting TB, oral vitamin A and a deworming agent. The staff was curious if deworming was typically done on all children in the United States and seemed surprised to find out that it is not routine practice for us. While intestinal worms can occur in the USA it is much less likely given our food preparation and sanitation processes. We are already looking forward to baby day next week!
In addition to visiting MKMC we have also been working with The Aids Support Organization (TASO) the past few days to see the various services they provide to the community.
On Thursday we had the opportunity to ride along with the group to observe and assist with a 6-month medication review out in one of the villages. After about a 45 minute drive through conditions that felt like Nascar on a backcountry road we safely arrived at our destination. The community was very welcoming and the process began immediately. Patients were weighed, had their arm circumference measured and blood taken to measure their HIV viral load in addition to some general health questions to assess well-being. Everyone also pays a very modest fee to the organization to continue to have the drugs delivered and the peer support group continued. Requiring the fee, as is the thought with MKMC, causes patients to value the service more and not take what they are receiving for granted. Once these steps were all complete each person was given another 3 months, to the day, worth of their antiretroviral therapy. The exact measurement is done to ensure patients come back to get their refill when TASO returns to the village. We left the group at this point as they were traveling much farther away from Masindi and would not be back till late in the day. Our journey home was much smoother, and we were able to see a group of baboons including little ones inciting a photography fest from the car.
TASO also holds on site clinic days where patients go through a very similar process in order to receive their medication although there appears to be much more health education occurring. One way TASO attempts to educate their clients is through a “drama show”. Our group was very interested to see how this would play out and attended one of the shows. Armed with a translator and an open mind the show began. Through a series of scenarios involving boyfriends, girlfriends and myths about HIV medication the drama show received tons of laughs and audience participation. With one show and a good turnout (about 30-40 people) I was pretty convinced this was a worthwhile way to get people to listen to the important messages TASO wants to get across. Depending on our schedule next week we may attend another clinic day to dig further into the pharmacy and dispensing aspect of their operation. With only a week and some change left we’re looking forward to what the last bit of time has left, and to sleeping in tomorrow.