The WMF team of three Clinical Officers, two nurses, a pharmacy Assistant and a driver set off from our Nkhotakota headquarters at its usual time of 7.30am. Just over an hour later they arrive at Chia, a remote village over 30kms from the nearest tarmac road. Eighty-two sick children were already queuing to be seen, amongst whom was seven year old Charity, a girl in severe pain, unable to walk or stand. Her guardian explained how she had fallen from a tree whilst playing with her friends five days ago.
Chief Clinical Officer Matson Dezi immediately suspected fractures of the Tibia and Fibula (The bones in the lower leg). For a child to endure five days of extreme discomfort with a broken leg is unimaginable. The only treatment available was from a local witch doctor whose attempt at a cure was to rub animal dung over the swelling, causing the child further unnecessary pain. It was essential to get Charity x-rayed and treated without further delay so the WMF Landrover was immediately despatched to take her with her guardian (the child is an orphan) and Clinical Officer Jeremiah Mwale to the government district hospital, 48km away.
A plaster of Paris cast was applied to Charity’s leg and she was able to return to her village later that day, the X-rays having confirmed Chief Clinical Officer Matson Dezi’s diagnosis. In his report he wrote “This girl is certainly one of the lucky ones, she had access to the WMF Mobile Clinic. Without our intervention her condition would have deteriorated and she would have suffered permanent disability”.
We treated a total of 119 sick children that day (a quiet day for the team) including numerous cases of malaria (with 5 in a comatose state), plus cases of bilharzia, tropical ulcers, eye, ear and other infections, a case of severe hydrocephalus (that has been referred for assessment for the insertion of an AV shunt) and a suspected case of polio. On that day, we: