OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

Nursing at Mayukwayukwa


Oct 14


Patients waiting to see us in the Out-Patient Department of one of the clinics
With our students we worked in 4 different rural health centers around Mayukwayukwa. Almost all of them are staffed by members of the community who have minimal training in health care. The whole time we were there, we did not see one doctor, they simply don’t exist there. At the main clinic there is one enrolled nurse who works night and day. When she is not at the clinic, the housekeepers and other support staff are delivering the babies. Seriously. In our experience here we have witnessed a lot of disease and death due to the lack of proper health care. In fact while we were here, one day we ended up running a clinic..on our own! Seriously…it was just Jessica and Lianne running this thing. We were diagnosing and prescribing treatment for about 50 patients. Conditions we treated included malaria, mastitis, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, threatened abortion, dysentery, ophthalmologic conditions, splenomegally, dysentery..and many more. We diagnosed and treated patients of all ages (although mainly pediatric patients) with no diagnositic tests or laboratory tests, we didn’t even have a thermometer!

Jess drawing up a tetanus immunization

Working as clinical instructors with our students at the Mayukwayukwa health centers involved teaching our students to operate clinics. The running of a primary health care facility is not just seeing patients in the outpatient department (similar to the emergency department). A rural clinic usually focuses on maternal child health. This means that they run programs on certain days each month to monitor the health of children and women at different stages. With our students we ran clinics for children under the age of five where we monitored the growth of the child, gave immunisations, and health talks on nutrition and common childhood ailments. The students also ran antenatal clinics where the progress of the mother and baby is monitored. The mother also receives a tetnus immunisation, malaria prophylaxis treatment, and teaching regarding healthy pregnancies. These are the three main areas in a rural setting, but anything can happen at anytime as in any health care setting!
Lianne getting ready to weigh the 200 children who came to one of our child health clinics
Our students giving a health talk to pupils at one of the schools (1000 children attend this school!)
Our role was to train our nursing students so that they will one day be able to run clinics of their own. We noticed that there is a lack of critical thinking from our students and we are working to teach them to make judgement calls on their own. It is a tough job, half the time we feel like we don’t know what the right thing to do is because we don’t work in sub-saharan Africa! However, we do know how to ask questions, and the importance of reference books as well. We are shocked by how much we actually do know and have learned just by working and teaching at Lewanika. We are thankful for the training we have had at UBCO as we feel that they really did prepare us for working in all situations, anywhere in the world.


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