Life here is very much back to normal for the most part. Covid cases nationally are 88,730 and 678 deaths (about 10,000 new cases in the last month). At Chitokoloki, we have recorded 173 cases to date. We have had good quality rapid test kits this month which makes testing a lot more practical. Every patient attending outpatients is tested on arrival and every inpatient and any next of kin accompanying them are tested. We haven’t had any positive inpatients for quite a number of weeks now. Our positive cases are all being treated at home. As per standard guidelines, they and their contacts are advised to isolate but in reality this is not happening and we regularly see known positive folk out and about. We are thankful that we are not seeing the severity of covid that has been seen in other places. In fact, if it were not for the ability to test for covid, we would have no awareness of its presence. There are a lot of misconceptions in the community and it is difficult to contact trace. The nasal swab is believed to enter the brain and rumours that the covid test is dreadful circulate widely. Some outpatients try and attend at night time in the hope that they will manage to avoid being tested.
In reality covid is of little concern compared to the continued problem of lack of blood. We continue to struggle to get supplies for blood transfusion, yet have numerous patients in desperate need of blood. The last few days we have had several patients with active bleeding problems and a number of children with malaria who have extremely low haemoglobin levels (3.2g/dl-5.6g/dl). Our wonderful lab staff were able to perform a blood drive on Wednesday and then send the samples to Solwezi (6 hours drive away) for testing. As per national guidelines, all blood for transfusion has to be tested at government blood bank facilities. Thankfully they had all the necessary reagents in stock this week and we received results this afternoon as to which units are cleared for use. This is a huge answer to prayer.
Hospital continues to give much opportunity for spiritual conversations and there is such a thirst for reading materials and Bibles. We are asked daily for literature. It is such a privilege to be able to help people spiritually as well as physically. Most of life here is in the open environment and even our hospital is a very open plan with lots of fresh air circulating. Many outreach activities occur sitting out under the trees and so we are able to continue with some social distancing. Chitokoloki life is very much outdoors. Village buildings are bedrooms but living “rooms”, kitchens and bath “rooms” are all out in the open. This surely must contribute to the low transmission of disease, unlike town areas with cramped living conditions.
We are grateful to have a number of active Christian staff who see that their role is in sharing the gospel as much as to provide health care. Please pray for one new member of our team Kennedy Wana who is a real inspiration. We pray for his continued enthusiasm and much blessing for his outreach activities. He is continually to be found sharing God’s love and the message of salvation with all he meets; and he spends his off days, painting the “good news” in the market place and villages. Thanks to those who sent paints and large poster paper which he is able to use for these activities. Where a work for the Lord is going on, the devil is also active trying to disrupt it. So much prayer is needed for the safety and encouragement of such brothers and sisters as they plant the good seed of God’s word in hearts and minds.
I delivered my 650th baby this month. As I look around Chitokoloki at my dear friends who are like sisters, motheringly colleagues and the hundreds of children who I have the privilege to care for – I can attest to God’s goodness and faithfulness to me. Life comes with its trials and “persecutions” of which Mark also writes. But no matter what the future holds, we know who holds the future and move forward in certainly of eternal life with Him.