We are here at last. After considerable hassle at Juba airport we eventually boarded our plane, although our five kit bags had to come on a later plane. It was wonderful to touch down on the dirt runway of Wau airport, to be greeted by Dr Majok and other hospital staff. ‘When we landed in Wau at last the captain let Ally’s sock monkeys have their picture taken in the flight deck!!!!’
At Wau hospital we received more warm welcomes from the Director General, Dr James Morgan, and others from the hospital and local church
There have been considerable problems of food shortages (eg bananas no longer available) and huge rises in prices following independence in July, and since my last visit 6 months ago, there is a huge problem in that the road from North Sudan is now closed, and new infrastructures are not yet set up for transportation. Juba doesn’t appear to be suffering but the people in Wau certainly are.
The hospital still lacks water and drainage: water is still brought here by donkey. There is generally electricity in the hospital from a generator for eight hours in the day, and a few hours at night there is no electricity in the town. Malaria has increased hugely, and many more people are dying from the disease due to lack of basic drugs to treat it. There are very few drugs in the hospital now. We have also learnt that there are big problems in environmental health, and that there is no public health setup. The hospital has big problems with security at night and the nurses are so frightened they have to hide or just don’t turn up.
The new emergency department is functioning now which is very good news, and the doctors and nurses are very anxious to learn . Many nurses and doctors came on their day off for teaching – the resource room was packed with about 25 staff (on a Saturday morning too!!!) who rotated round different workstations for paediatric resuscitation, family planning, surgery and suturing. It’s very exciting indeed, and just what we are here for.
There have been definite improvements on the surgical ward. It’s clean and seems much better organised than previously. They now have folders for notes, are doing observations ( using the sphygmomanometer we brought last time) and recording them, though only on a scrap of paper: we will take them some charts on Monday. A smartly dressed male nurse has the job of doing all the dressings. There were some interesting cases….several snake bites, a young girl with an attack Guinea worm who has been in hospital for seven months, and a family of seven who had all been travelling on the same motor bike before the inevitable accident – this sort of accident is very common here
We are staying at the CHTI (Catholic Health Training Institute) with the very friendly Sisters of Solidarity. The accommodation at the hotel was very bad on the last visit; this is so very much better, and also cheaper. We have the use of two bungalows with clean water, our own rooms, comfortable beds and we eat with the nuns. There is only electricity for about 3 hours a day from the generator from 7-10pm but we have candles and torches! Tonight we will go to an end of term celebration… a ‘feast’ and cultural celebration. The students are organising the feast (though I’m not eating the goat as I met the poor condemned creature yesterday!) We will present them with a letter and some gifts from the Florence Nightingale Foundation, which I’m sure they will be very excited about, as she is quite a heroine to them.
It’s very good to be here at last, and the response from the doctors and nurses is very encouraging.
1 some of the family from motorbike accident
2 Ally’s sock monkeys