This was Africa so you could never really predict what was going to happen. The first day was spent unpacking and sorting out medical bags, medications and logistics, and being taken around Bo to be welcomed by the local dignitaries before starting the clinics the following day.
No two clinics were the same but they did follow a basic pattern. We would travel to the designated village, anything from thirty minutes to four hours away from Bo, and there was always a crowd of around 200 waiting for us as word had got out that we were coming. After setting up the clinic we would speak to the crowd and explain why we were there, then share a short gospel message before seeing as many patients as we could in the time available.
The clinic was organised into different sections; medical/adult doctors (three or four), women’s doctors (two or three), children’s doctors (three or four), “laboratory” - malaria testing, urine dips and pregnancy tests (one), pharmacy/wound care (two), glasses and eye testing (one) and dental (one or two). My role, along with the other non-medic on the team, was to triage the patients and manage the queue which allowed the medics to see more patients. A number of local personnel connected to Margaret’s ministry came along to help with registering the patients and acted as translators.
The most important area of the clinic was the prayer station where local pastors were able to pray with many people, explain more about the gospel and give out Bibles.
Sometimes we would have opportunity to have a gospel presentation after lunch or at the end of the day, depending on the time, location and number of patients seen.
Over the course of the trip we saw just under 2,500 patients. Most of them saw more than one practitioner, meaning the number of actual consultations were many more.
It was the dry season so very few adults had malaria despite their presenting complaint of “typhoid malaria”. However, more of the children tested positive and we were able to give anti-malarial treatment to them.
Many patients complained of headache, often linked either to hypertension or to financial concerns. Others had the usual musculoskeletal concerns, often brought on by lugging five gallon palm oil metal tubs. Many had eye conditions, including pterygia, cataracts and enophthalmos, and we were able to dispense around 400 pairs of glasses. The dentists performed many extractions and the nurses from the team were busy undertaking lots of tests and dressings, and helping in the pharmacy.