21 February 2009

By now it is quite sunny. We’ve got a while to go until we reach our next destination. We exchange stories with Georgina about our lives; she shows me mobile phone-photos of her 4-year daughter who I in all honesty exclaim over since she does look absolutely adorable. Both she and her husband are nurses and they both have work now, but even so if things don’t improve in the country she is considering moving to Botswana.

We eventually both nod off to sleep in the softly bumping ride with the warm sun making it cozy inside our cholera van.

J Stavropoulou  |   The Oral Rehydration Points situated in Harare

Photo: J Stavropoulou | The Oral Rehydration Points situated in Harare's townships are often located in remote areas which are reached only through difficult inaccessible roads. MSF monitors these areas through the ORPs and transfers patients with cholera-care adapted minivans.

Arriving at Dziva, we both wake up quickly since at our ORP there are two dehydrated patients waiting for transfer to the MSF Cholera Treatment Center (or CTC in short). One lady has her 1-year old baby with her. “Is your baby sick as well?” I ask her. “No,” she shakes her head weakly, “but I am breast-feeding and I don’t have anywhere to leave the baby.” A few days later I would see this same lady at the CTC and by then her baby was also infected with cholera.

The other lady is 9-months pregnant. The attending nurse at the ORP tells Georgina that according to the patient there hadn’t been any fetus movement for the past three days. The two nurses shake their head. It is very usual for pregnant women getting cholera to loose their babies.

While they take care of the paperwork, I go over to talk to the pregnant lady. She already has four children and had given birth to all of them in her home, even though after the second birth she had post-partum hemorrhage. Her husband does not support her; he does not have work. She and other five families all drink from a shallow well; she does not have the means to boil the water and she thinks that is where she got the cholera.