June 21, 2010
by Brittany Latimer
Lipscomb College of Pharmacy
Day One: The Clinic
This is my first time traveling to
One of the biggest differences that I have noticed is healthcare. I saw this first hand when I went to the healthcare clinic in Namwianga. The clinic opens at 9 am, after the workers morning devotional, closes for lunch from 12:30-2 pm and then closes for the day at 4 pm. They are open from 9-12 on Saturday and only open for emergencies on Sunday. My first day there I worked in the pharmacy with another Lipscomb pharmacy student, John Deason, and the dispenser, Michelle. They don’t even have a pharmacist, just a dispenser which is the equivalent to a pharmacy technician. A dispenser has to school for two extra years after high school and has a general knowledge of the medications. Once a patient sees the clinical officer they go straight to the pharmacy with their prescription and the dispenser fills the prescription. They don’t collect any payment.
Recently there was a new law made that any patients that come to the clinic do not have to pay. They do not pay for medicine or to see the “doctor”. This has made things quite difficult because the clinic basically runs off donations since they do not receive that much money from the government. Therefore the pharmacy is very under stocked since they only receive one shipment at the beginning of the month. They have less medicine than two shelves of medicine in a pharmacy in the
The most used prescription was paracetamol (which is also known as acetaminophen) because most people carry packages on their head or back if they’re not carrying their babies. Some diseases don’t even seem realistic to treat here in Namwianga since it is a very rural area. HIV/AIDS patients seem almost impossible to treat at an optimal level. They send workers from the clinic out into the villages to try and get people to come into to get their medicines. Also it’s hard to keep medicines in stock, because they have little money to work with. Most people don’t have refrigerators. After a suspension is mixed up for a child it is supposed to be stored in a refrigerator, but what do you do if you don’t have one? We are just so blessed here in the
Day Two: The Patients
The second day at I was at the clinic I observed the clinical officer working. You may be asking yourself what is a clinical officer? A clinical officer is equivalent to a physician’s assistant in the
The clinical officer’s door is always open so patients don’t receive much privacy unless it is a highly sensitive issue. One major difference is that an entire family will come in to see the clinical officer as opposed to parents seeing their personal doctors and their children going to a pediatrician in the
There were a lot of patients coming needing wound care or complaining of previous wounds. There were three very memorable experiences that stuck out in my mind. The first experience involved a man’s two young sons. The younger son was less than 10 years old and had an inguinal hernia. He was referred to a hospital in order to have surgery to repair the hernia. The older son had a form of warts that started all the way in his left armpit, migrated up his shoulder onto his neck, onto the left then right side of his face and onto his chest. He has had the warts since birth, but it has been spreading over the years. The second experience included a lady who was in so much pain that she was doubled over and had to be carried out of the car to a wheelchair into the office. She looked very emaciated and it was very unnerving to see her in so much pain. She was HIV positive and possibly even had AIDS. She had not yet started on her antiretroviral drugs and since she was in such critical condition she was referred to the closest hospital for treatment. One woman came in with a prolapsed uterus and had to also be referred to a hospital for surgery. There are so few resources that after the clinical officer examined the woman on the examination table he wasn’t able to change the sheets.
The line of patients seemed to be never ending. No matter how many people the clinical officer managed to see, the line only seemed to get longer. The dentist had to take ten to fifteen patients in order for them to be able to get through all the patients in time. The Clinical Officer had no reference materials in order to double check his initial diagnosis or to check the dosing of a medication. He totally relied on his memory for everything. He also didn’t have a peer that he could consult. He was pretty much on his own. It was quite an interesting experience to see firsthand. The staff at the clinic has very few resources to work with, but they make do with what they have and try to do their job to the best of their ability.