Two weeks left
Trip Start Jan 10, 2007
16Trip End May 08, 2007
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One week left till my days in Malawi come to an end. I can hardly believe it...The months of February and March were an adventurous one. I have been very fortunate to meet a great friend and wonderful family who has shown me the beauty's of Malawi and making this trip unforgettable.
First off, I never thought my birthday would ever of been spent in East Africa. My Malawian friend Steven and roommate Claudine took me to Mount Mulanje, which is the mountain with the highest peak in Central Africa. The drive was both stunning and inspiring with never a dull moment. On each side of the road, villages comprised of shaggy thatched homes would be seen and all along the road you witness a tiny peak to what the day-to-day activities of a Malawian would be
Driving over the Shire river, I was taken to a National Park where you can find Nyala, which is a tall antelope, monkeys, zebras, and giraffes among others. The drive was amazing and the coolest thing was while we were driving through the park, I was distracted at looking at some Nyala to the left of me. All of a sudden a HUGE giraffe walked right in front of the car. I couldn't believe it. For a second it looked like a huge tree suddenly got legs and walked right in front of us. I have seen a giraffe before at the zoo but to see it in person in your own car is a whole different experience.... Definitely something I won't forget.
CAPE MACCLEAR, LAKE MALAWI
Lake Malawi is another destination I was fortunate enough to see
One thing I've discovered while I've been in Malawi is that I LOVE rugby. My Saturday's consist of doing nothing but watching the sport. The Six Nations Tournament is on now and Ireland, Whales, England, Scotland, France, and Italy are the competitors and I'm happy to say that Ireland is one of the top teams in the tournament ?
I also was able to go on another fishing trip with my friend's family and I have felt real privileged to be able to go out with them
Being in Africa, I've seen many things that I probably wouldn't see in the states. Since my office is near the pediatrician's, she calls me in when she has an interesting case. I have seen 2 children who have been malnourished and as a result their skin is flaking off and discolored. One of those children was showing signs of marasmus which is a form of protein energy malnutrition and was such a severe case that it would be probably be something you would see in Somalia. The child was of 4 years of age but looked like he was 2 due to stunted growth and a loss of muscle and body fat. His cheek had started to bleed due to his skin flaking off and it was truly sad to see. He had no energy and had to be carried because he was so weak and therefore couldn't walk. The doctor also suspected he had pneumonia and thankfully was admitted to the hospital to be put on IVs because if he didn't receive fluids he would of died. I know he was discharged some days later but it's hard to say if he really will survive or not. The mother seemed to have no willingness to take her child's illness seriously and due to poverty, she may not have enough money to be giving him the proper nutrients he needs to recover as 75% of Malawians live on less than $2 a day
Regarding my own research, next Wednesday I am scheduled to present my report to the head honcho's of the hospital. I'm pretty nervous but I'm sure it'll all go well.
Unfortunately there are a lot of gaps in my research due to a poor monitoring system of PMTCT (preventing mother-to-child transmission) patients, but this opportunity has given me insight to the clinical side of PMTCT and an opportunity to present these issues to the management with solutions so that there can be change in implementing a proper monitoring system for the hospital.
One of the biggest barriers to battling HIV/AIDS is the stigma that surrounds it. When a women is HIV+, the full protocol for PMTCT includes: c-section, ARVs before or during delivery for the mother, nevirpine for the baby 48 hours after delivery, and infant formula feeding for baby. When a women opts for a c-section, everyone wonders why she is getting a c-section and not choosing vaginal delivery. A lot of the pressure comes from the mother, mother-in-law, and grandmothers. If the mother chooses infant formula instead of breastfeeding her child, she has the risk of facing stigma among her own family members, friends, workplace and community will question her status because about 99% of children are breastfed for at least one year and 92% are still breastfed from 16-19 months. Discrimination and stigma are truly huge barriers to fighting the disease for mother-to-child transmission as it accounts for nearly 25% of all new HIV infections.
I was fortunate enough to meet a doctor who works at Queens Elizabeth (QE) Hospital, which is one of the main government run hospitals of Malawi, and offered to show me around
The patients in the room all looked very sick. Many of them were very very skinny, others were vomiting, and some just lay in the arms of their loved one helplessly. The doctor let us observe inside the mouths of some of these patients to see if any of them have developed Karposi's Sarcoma which is one of the earliest signs of AIDS
On a happier note ? .....
MY FAMILY IS COMING!
Next week my family is joining me in the warm heart of Africa and I can hardly wait to see them. We are going to spend one night in Blantyre and then off to Zambia to a safari for two days and then to Victoria falls for another 2 days. After that we will travel to beautiful Cape Town and spend the rest of our vacation there. I will leave them in Africa a few days before they leave to attend my friend Timmy's wedding in San Diego and then off to Asia for 5 weeks to backpack and meet up with some friends along the way.
I'll keep you all posted as time goes on. I hope all is well back home... much love...
PS. to all the Irish out there...Happy St. Patty's Day!