Thursday, October 13, 2011

Malaria Killing Real People

Most days I wake up, clean, read, eat and go over to the Jeyiri CHPS (Health Clinic). I have been filling in the books, taking weight and temperature and even doing malaria tests. This entails cleaning a finger, poking it with a sterile needle, squeezing the finger, drawing blood and placing it on the test strip. Then I wait about 3 minutes for the results. One line means negative and two lines means positive for malaria.  Now the test strips are only for one type of malaria. So even if the person is negative, but has bodily aches or a temperature we still give the malaria medicine along with multivitamin.  Soon I will even be able to distribute the drugs to people and write up their prescriptions.  The only thing that will take a while to do would here the patient’s complaints. I still don’t here the language all that well.  I will be getting a tutor with two other volunteers, so we can all practice.

It seems that every person who comes in has malaria. Most are woman and children. One child had a temperature of 42°C. He was rushed outside so we could throw cold water on him. I know that the people in my village are extremely strong and endure more that I thought humanly possible, so to see the suffering on their faces, I know their misery is more than I could bear.  Isn’t malaria that NGO disease that Westerns give money to all the time to help the poor Africans? How come I am in a place where people die because they cannot afford preventative bed nets and when they get sick they have no health insurance. The children die at home with no means for their parents to help them. 

I know that in America people die too without means to medical help, but is it worse in Africa? Who is suffering more? Is it even possible to compare the suffering of the poor in a first world country compared to a third world country? The situations are so different and are complex in their own ways. So what is more important domestic or international volunteerism? Again who is suffering more? Volunteers who have been on both sides like myself always come to this question. Is there a right answer? As long as am dedicating my life to decrease the suffering in the world, isn’t that enough. I would like to hear your thoughts on which path is benefiting the world more domestic or international volunteerism.  

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