One of the most difficult decisions I have to make when I am in Zambia is to prioritise when it comes to funding treatment for sick children. Such is the demand that it is impossible to help every one of them. Over the years the charity has assisted as many children as possible, some through the under fives’ feeding program, other more serious cases with operations and medical treatment. The number of beneficiaries has increased in the past two years thanks to regular donations from Brady Italia.
The rural Health Centres we support at Mukuni, Katapazi and Nsongwe deal with general practice. The clinical workers examine patients suffering from common colds to full blown diseases such malaria, TB and HIV and AIDS. Most households cannot afford to keep a paracetamol or bandage at hand. The clinical staff are well trained but facilities and medical supplies are basic. The Butterfly Tree supports a number of health projects at Mukuni, which include helping sick and under-nourished children. It is heartbreaking to learn that children have been waiting several years to have a spleen or bladder operation or in need of physiotherapy. In addition we provide support for orphaned babies and an under-fives’ feeding program.
The nearest hospital to these clinics is Livingstone, some 16 kilometres from Mukuni Village, which has a new paediatric ward. The surgical ward in the general hospital is where I have taken a number of young children to seek further examinations. One such case was a little boy who had a swelling on his eye, thought to be a tumour. The doctor told me that he would have to perform a biopsy. I was horrified to learn that the results can take between three to six months as there is only one pathology laboratory in the entire nation with a population of 13 million. Fortunately for Jordan his eye swelling was caused by a piece of wire embedded in his eyelid and not a tumour as first thought.
Most families have no money for transport to get to hospital, the charity provides these funds whenever possible. Even more challenging is when a patient is referred to Lusaka Hospital, which is over 500 kilometres from Livingstone. Currently we are funding five children for on going treatment and seven infants who are orphaned or under weight. Global Partners for Health has generously supported this program. In addition we provide funds for malaria and HIV and AIDS prevention.
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