Nkhata Bay

Our trainings for this week are for the Nkhata Bay District Hospital. We’re staying in a rather dilapidated lodge that seems to be frequented primarily by Malawians (rather than muzungus like us!) So far the trainings seem to be going very well. Though, yesterday I took the day off and walked up to a more mzungu lodge (the Mayoka Village) and had a nice day of sitting on the shore and watching the lake and reading a book.Apparently, Saturday’s training was quite lively. Ellie said it felt like people asked questions about every slide and nearly every statement. Which meant she was gone for quite a long time! But if it means that people know the material better, that will be great. (I hope they do. The pre and post test comparisons from St. John’s were a little disheartening. There seemed to be very little overall improvement.)

Sunday’s practical session about DBS collection has gone well. The people seem to know what’s going on. I suppose that makes sense because several other trainings that many of these people have been through involve the technique of collection, though they haven’t ever done it before. They’re currently in another room practicing on one another.

 The onsite visits also went very well.

 The paediatric ward tested 2 children on our first day and the ARV clinic tested a baby that came in with a mother who wanted VCT (voluntary counseling and testing.) Her story is interesting and a little sad. The mother had recently lost about 20 kg (from 85 down to a really malnourished looking 65) and had had a number of other illnesses. She also has a 4 month old baby and a whole breast abscess on one side. (She was worried about the baby a lot because she was concerned she couldn’t produce enough milk with just one breast.) The mother tested positive (and she was relieved to know why she’d been having problems. It was actually a kind of strange and unexpected reaction to a positive HIV test.) We then tested the baby and will get the results in 2-4 weeks. (Well, I’ll probably never get them, but her family will.) The mother qualified for supplemental feeds and will probably qualify for ARVs at the next ARV clinic that they have. It was nice to make a positive difference in the lives of a mother and baby.

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