Doctors in Chingombe
Chingombe is the name of a valley, a river and a village with a mission established by Polish Jesuits in 1914. The village has 3,000 inhabitants, who are members of the Lala tribe.
Chingombe is home to the region’s only health clinic, which serves, on average, 80 patients a day. The clinic includes a simple maternity ward; pregnant women in more remote areas are served by a small group of locally trained midwives. The clinic has two patient rooms, with a total of 15 beds.
The hospital staff includes one medical technician and two nuns from the order of the Servant Sisters of Stara Wies. One of them attends to fieldwork, including educating the local population, vaccinating children and providing ad hoc medical assistance, thereby reaching out to patients who would otherwise have had difficulties in reaching the hospital. The main problem facing that healthcare unit is a shortage of medical staff, medicines, medical equipment and dressings.
Doctors in Chingombe
The project was implemented between 18 July 2016 and 31 December 2016. Two medical volunteers (a paramedic and a fifth-year medical student) resided in Chingombe from 28 July 2016 to 31 October 2016, during which time they worked in the healthcare unit on weekdays and on weekends. Development of the project was informed by an awareness of the need to supplement the limited medical staff at the Chingombe health centre and to mitigate shortages in the supply of medicines, medical equipment and dressings there.
The immediate goal of the project was to improve standards of medical care on-location and to increase the accessibility of medical services to the local population. The project beneficiaries included the residents of Chingombe and surrounding settlements.
The volunteers provided nursing care and ad hoc medical assistance in the healthcare unit (they changed dressings, administered drugs, and performed basic patient examinations). They also maintained medical records and updated patient files, which will help the volunteers who will come to the mission in the future. The volunteers vaccinated children and conducted deworming operations in local kindergartens and schools. They cared for pregnant women, examined them, and assisted in deliveries. They made home visits to patients unable to reach the centre.
Volunteers also undertook educational activities, particularly on personal hygiene and sexual development. They trained staff in the process of implementing improved medical procedures with regard to hygiene, dressing of wounds, reduced use of antibiotics, and stepping up emergency response.
After returning to Poland, the volunteers held an exhibition of photographs they took in the course of their stay in Zambia as part of their educational effort.
Doctors in Chingombe
During their three-month residence at the Chingombe Health Centre, volunteers received and examined a total of 2,163 patients (approximately 33 per day), vaccinated nearly 700 children, examined around 300 pregnant women and assisted with 16 deliveries in collaboration with the local staff. Through home visits, they reached about 30 patients who would otherwise have been unable to reach the centre. Instead of the scheduled pre-med first aid courses, the volunteers gave four lectures on personal hygiene, including oral hygiene (cavity prevention), and sexual development, which had a total of 100 participants (both children and adults). The volunteers also organised a series of training courses and workshops for a group of 26 people, in which they focused on prevention of malaria and upgrading of medical procedures.
The work provided by the volunteers and the small medical equipment purchased under the project improved the standards of medical care available through the Chingombe Health Centre.
In collaboration with the Redemptoris Missio Humanitarian Aid Foundation, their sending organisation, the volunteers prepared a photographic exhibition presenting their work in Chingombe, which opened on 16 December 2016 at the Blubra Kafe café in Poznań. About 200 people visited the exhibition, which is presently travelling to various locations around Poland’s Wielkopolska Voivodeship.