Imagine being a patient at Kabudula Community Hospital…
When someone falls sick in an African village, the family must find money for transportation to the hospital. They may reach out to other family members or sell a goat or some chickens to find these funds. Once the patient leaves home, he/she may begin by walking several kilometers to a dirt road. If the patient cannot walk, he/she may be carried on the back of a bicycle. Upon reaching the dirt road, another option for transportation may include riding on the back of a motorcycle to the main road. At the main road, the patient may be able to board a minibus for the final part of the journey to the hospital.
At the hospital, there is usually a long line of patients waiting to be seen, having started lining up since the early morning. These people have all been awake since before sunrise, having had to fetch water and start a fire for morning baths before leaving home. Whenever villagers travel anywhere, such as to the hospital, they bathe meticulously and dress their very best. No one seems to mind waiting for several hours to see the doctor – children play together and families chat in the waiting area as the day proceeds. No one comes to the hospital alone – every patient is escorted by at least one or several family members for support, and mothers generally carry small children on their backs everywhere they go, so it becomes a family event. The extra support is necessary, however, because if the patient is admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay, the accompanying family member is responsible for caring for most of the person’s daily needs. This presents another issue of lodging for family members – it is too far for them to travel back and forth to the hospital each day, and the hospital only has space for patients. So, family members set up camp just outside the main area of the hospital, where you will find many people cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes, and generally camping out for whatever length of time their relative remains a patient in the hospital.
Since individual records are not kept on file at hospitals/clinics, patients carry a “health passport” book with them whenever they go to the hospital. This is a small paper booklet about the same size and shape as a regular passport. Every patient must have one, and this is where the doctor records notes and writes prescriptions.
Most of the common illnesses presented at Kabudula Community Hospital are readily treatable by the clinicians on staff and the availability of essential medicines from partners like Access Health Africa and World Altering Medicine. However, patients with more serious conditions or complications are referred to hospitals in the capital city, which presents further issues regarding travel and transportation logistics. In addition, these referral hospitals are often over-crowded and under-resourced, making it difficult for everyone to access timely and quality care. We are working together with staff and partners at Kabudula Community Hospital to increase its capacity so that more patients can access the care they need.
Thanks for supporting us to make a difference in this community!