And from The Rock ...
Elspeth Dugdale | August 4, 2018
Meet Sam, the new Clinical Officer at The Rock. Sam started work a few weeks ago and is already making some significant changes. In the first few days, he was busy walking round the school compound with Annet (The Rock Manager), identifying areas for improvement. He joins Milly (lab technician) and Gideon (midwife).
Considering each dormitory contains the equivalent of over 50 teenagers' bedroom areas in a relatively small area, (imagine!), they are surprisinigly well organised. However, Sam pointed out that they all need to be more concerned with overall cleanliness and tidyness - no hiding of dirty plates and cups under the beds! Other areas to be tackled include cleanliness in the kitchen, the correct storage of students' plates and cups, and general levels of hygiene all around - not forgetting the infamous pit latrines. Also Sam identified a few areas of stagant water, which of course will encourage mosquitoes, so to be avoided at all costs, to reduce the chances of malaria. He has already started health talks for the students - which are always very well received. We wish Sam every success in this new and important role at school.
The role of The Rock is firstly, to give medical support and health advice to the student community at WTA. In addition to this, The Rock is able to offer low-cost, quality medical provision and health education to the Lukomera community. But in reality, it is not that simple. Traditional habits, views and outlooks are difficult to change. These are a few of the challenges that The Rock faces:
- students may 'expect' medication after any consultation, whatever the diagnosis - as they feel they are then getting 'proper' treatment
- students may simply just be dehydrated, but they don't like to be told to go and 'drink more water' as initial advice from The Rock
- patients often think that 'more is better', so that a greater number of cheaper tablets, (usually fake medicine available at other clinics), must be better than genuine medication
- they may wait till the last minute to bring a sick child for treatment, (eg. for malaria) to avoid any payment, hoping they may recover anyway
- they may be reluctant to attend health education talks during planting or harvesting seasons
- they may be afraid of vaccinations and blood tests
- they may take only a part of the course of treatment to save the medicine for another time, thereby reducing its effectiveness
- expectant mothers may choose to avoid mandatory HIV tests and go to a government clinic, where they do not always insist on them
- government investment in health is somewhat lacking.. as highlighted in the article below. To clarify, 3000 shillings = 60p. There is little confidence in health centres generally.
The Rock has an important part to play in impacting and improving attitudes and confidence in both school /community health provision and health education. The need is very great, but the potential to make positive change is definitely there.