January 2011 Newsletter – Issue 22

Sunday 7 November

After a frantic week, my weekend was quiet andrefreshing. “I feel almost ready to face thenext thing,” I comment to Rosie. “I wonderwhat that will be?” she replied.

Monday 8th

Phone call from Tabubil Hospital (3 hours drive from us). Confidentially, we doctors are told Tabubil have a confirmed case of cholera. There are 10 deaths in Daru from Cholera, we are told. That’s our provincial capital. We gather the staff and discuss need to respond to the cholera threat.

Tuesday 9th

We are allowed to tell the staff of the case in Tabubil, now two cases. Death count in Daru now 21, we hear from a student here from Daru who talked to her family on the radio. Staff spend all morning discussing what it means for us. I chair the newly formed “Prevention” team.

Wednesday 10th

Confirmed cholera case in Kiunga, on the Fly River 40 min drive south from here. We get a patient with diarrhoea, but can’t test them for cholera. The prevention team does “Awareness” health talk in Menomsore Village near here. We find out the outbreak in Daru is actually three weeks old.

Friday 12th

Official opening of government building in Kiunga cancelled due to cholera. Saturday 13th We set up handwashing outside each hospital ward and put up posters about prevention. Our diarrhoea patient is probably not cholera.

Saturday 13th

We set up handwashing outside each hospital ward and put up posters about prevention. Our diarrhoea patient is probably not cholera.

Sunday 14th

I share in testimony time in church how Jesus is water of life and more important than cholera and washing hands! Hundreds come to night meeting with DVD and awareness at Rumginae Station. Monday 15th First “task force” cholera meeting in the district since news of the outbreak.

Tuesday 16th

I start teaching in outpatients how to bleach water, and teach students how to teach it. Rosie does inservice for the staff on the Biblical view of sickness – teaching how to use it in teaching others.

Wednesday 17th

A welcome day off. My friend Jennifer came around and we laughed! Felt so good.
Thursday 18th More cholera in Kiunga. Details are sketchy, but a ship full of people from Daru arrived in the town just near us. Three are sick with cholera. They say 40 from their village near the Fly river mouth died of diarrhoea.

Friday 19th

Big meeting with all our staff aiming to have cholera treatment centre set up by Monday and allocate jobs to staff. But it is pay week and everyone takes off to town in the afternoon. Saturday 20th We plan how to empty our TB ward to make a space for a cholera treatment centre. I work on a letter to our village aid posts to equip them how to give awareness and treat people with cholera.

Tuesday 23rd

“The LORD gives strength to his people, the LORD blesses his people with peace.” I pray for that strength and peace. I am tired, struggling to prioritise and do the important things. Struggling to enlist the help of people. Please help me.

Wednesday 24th

In two groups I teach selected staff the basics of how to run a cholera treatment centre. A member of the community has volunteered to help, feeling called by God to do so.

Monday 29th

All our outstations are sent “Cholera kits” of information – how to prevent and treat cholera.

Tuesday 30th

Area cholera report: Daru has had 996 cases, 180 admissions and 32 deaths. Another 132 cases on the mainland, mostly in the Middle and South Fly Districts.

Wednesday 1st December

While teaching an inservice to our staff on Cholera, a very dehydrated woman was brought into the outpatient room just beside us. We used our “Cholera” buckets for her profuse diarrhoea and the Cholera admission sheet for the first time. What relief when the stool tested negative! This “practice run” revealed a lot of deficiencies in our systems…

Friday 3rd

Our medical stores order from July has finally arrived! Along with extra water containers we had bought. Wednesday 8 Supplies of antibiotics for Cholera arrived.
Thursday 9 Dr Dan and his family leave for a months holiday.

As I write on 12 December, we still have no cholera cases. Our cholera treatment centre is not yet set up, but we now are fairly ready to get it in action if it is needed. Health education has gone out to most of the communities we are responsible for and we have the supplies we need for an outbreak if it occurs. We praise God for his mercy in keeping cholera away. After a big month dominated by getting ready for cholera, we are finally prepared and ready for the next challenge. For me, that’s being without our longterm Dr Dan.

From Sharon Brandon

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