By Kira Dalton
It is good to be back in Gambia although the weather is still unusually hot and sticky after a later than normal rainy season.
This has meant, however, that the incidence of malaria is at an all time high.
To make matters worse, there is a shortage of malaria drugs everywhere -
except, I'm pleased to say, at Jappineh Health Centre.
Last month they treated an astonishing 896 patients. Nearly double the usual number. Because of drug shortages elsewhere, patients are coming from far and wide seeking treatment and it is VERY rewarding to be able to meet their needs.
Within minutes of arriving in Jappineh on Monday, a woman came in by donkey cart and was delivered of a bouncing healthy baby girl a few minutes later. Ansumana then rushed back to out patients where two young children had been brought in.
One was nearly comatose and the other was having seizures - both because of very high fever caused by malaria. No sooner had the young patients been sponged down, put on drips and stabilised when the next batch of patients arrived. All this in addition to the usual queue of chronic illness, minor injuries etc.
All the staff at Jappineh Health Centre do an amazing job. Adama and Wandifa seem to be on call day and night - constantly needed on the ward and in the lab.
Our newly recruited second nurse, Alhajie, has been thrown in at the deep end and very quickly proved himself as part of a great team. Even the orderlies and cleaners are having a much busier time than usual and are still managing to keep the place spotless. Their efforts have been made much easier due to our newly tiled floors for which we thank Drs. Isa and Isabella from Holland. Soon we will be using some surplus funds from their very successful Facebook Campaign (Bella Africa) to begin replacing the old, cracked and totally unsuitable double glazed windows with much more appropriate shutters and mosquito netting.
Chalo, the ambulance driver, has been rushed off his feet. He had already made two runs to Soma on Monday morning with emergency referrals but was still on standby well into the evening in case he was needed again. Fortunately, both of the young children stabilised and one was even able to go home the next day as was the proud new mum and her baby.
Our nursery schools on the coast are all looking good after their rainy season
maintenance. All are fully enrolled with the maximum 30 children per class. That in itself is quite an improvement. I recently saw 2 grade 1 classes where there are over 90 children! Their teachers face an impossible task, especially as they are not fortunate enough to have access to the facilities and equipment which our donors have made possible at HENS, Mariama Mae and Stepping Stones. Next we want to upgrade the playground facilities at Jappineh Nursery School so they too can enjoy swings, slides and other playground equipment.
To all our wonderful supporters, please do keep those donations coming. There will always be more to do here ......
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The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.