by: Lilian Nagle, medical/surgical team volunteer
Hi! My name is Lilian Nagle and I am currently a pre-med undergrad at the University of North Florida. This is my first time in Africa and it has been an experience beyond anything I could have imagined. From observing and assisting surgeries in the rural Kabudula hospital to being able to experience a day in the casualty area of Lilongwe’s main hospital, Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), I have learned and gained incredible world experience in the span of the week.
I was most struck by the people and the community in Malawi. Everyone was friendly and open and would genuinely ask how you were doing when you talked to them. Everyone we interacted with would consistently express their gratitude for the healthcare they were receiving from the Access Health Africa physicians.
Our translator for the week, Chipie, was an incredible person to get to know and is representative of the soul of Malawi. She is interested in what the AHA team is doing and she was proactive in making sure the patients felt comfortable and were able to communicate with us, and that they understood what their procedures entailed. She also assisted in our interviews with the patients, who gave us valuable insights into the health of everyone in the surrounding villages. With her help, we learned that many patients were traveling over 2 hours by foot to receive procedures that would hopefully change their lives for the better.
On Friday I had the opportunity to accompany Dr. Newell to KCH. We first sat in on the medical resident’s morning check in where they discussed patient cases from the previous night. One of the most difficult and sad cases involved a newborn in critical condition whose twin had already passed away. We then went to help out in the casualty area of the hospital, which had few beds and plenty of patients with a various range of complaints. Very critical patients with emergent issues were in the direct vicinity of patients with kidney stones and each patient was seen by first year medical residents and medical students. The medical students and residents we met were all incredibly bright, motivated individuals who clearly care about their patients.
Overall I am taking away memories that will stay with me forever and will motivate me to work towards my own goals of becoming a physician. I look forward to one day returning to Malawi and I also look forward to following Access Health Africa and the work that they do for the people here.