by Kristin Hendricks, dental volunteer
Today at Dzalaka Refugee Camp, Dr. Mullarkey and her team treated 23 patients. The patients ages ranged from 6 up to 72 years old. The refugees are from various countries and backgrounds, with over 30,000 people living in the camp. The majority of the refugees are from the Congo and make up over 17,000 of the total population. At Dzalaka, there is no dental clinic so the access to treatment is limited. They must travel over an hour by ambulance to the dental clinic that's located at the hospital in Lilongwe. Many of these patients avoid seeking treatment at the hospital because they are responsible for their own transportation home after receiving dental care.
There's only one medical doctor living in the camp and only minor illnesses can be treated. The health facility has limited resources and relies heavily on volunteers to help treat patients. Any major medical procedures or treatment must be done at the public medical hospital, which is also over an hour commute. Part of AHA's mission is to help improve access to health care for the refugees by directly visiting and providing care at the camp.
The power was still out in Kabudula, but with a generator up and running, Dr. Henson and his team completed six surgeries today. The surgery's included two hernia cases, a hydrocele case, as well as cysts and lipoma surgeries to round out the day.
AHA's public health consultants, Katie Sacca and Sadie Bazur-Leidy, spent today traveling to Chikowa and Ukwe regional health centers to meet with their center directors and learn more about how the referral process for surgical care at the Kabudula AHA clinic this week went. The centers serve between 30,000 and 60,000 patients each per year! They traveled 50 kilometers on dirt roads from Kabudula's district hospital to the regional health centers. Despite being staffed by only one nurse and one medical assistant each, they are highly respected in their communities. Many of the patients are then referred to Kabudula Community Hospital for more extensive treatment. AHA's goal is to help provide more medical support in these distant health centers in Malawi.