Fieldset
Photo blog: setting up emergency malaria clinics

Emily is a project coordinator in the North Kivu Emergency Response Unit (NKERU). The team works quickly to respond to the most urgent health needs in the North Kivu region of DRC. When the number of people with malaria increased dramatically, Emily and the rest of the unit got to work. Fast.

An MSF tent surrounded by the lush landscape of North Kivu.

Following months of high levels of malaria cases, NKERU was called in to Kashuga in North Kivu to respond to the emergency number of patients presenting at the local health centres.

 
Emily and the team review CVs
 
After recruiting and training 28 people in 72 hours (receptionists, nurses, drivers, guards, health educators, pharmacists etc.), we’re ready to go!
 
Recruitment has to be done by international staff members to keep it as neutral and impartial as possible – as I am the only non-Congolese person on the NKERU team, I grabbed any international staffer that walked passed the door to help with the final selection for written tests, from the 600 - 700 applications we received. Here we are sorting through the envelopes, CVs, cover letters and diplomas.
 
The landcruisers are ready at dawn
 
This view is becoming all too familiar. Cramming in all the work that needs to be done to set up and run emergency malaria clinics means early starts for the team.
 
The landcruiser is full of kit
 
So is this one! Every day we pack the car full of medical and logistical supplies needed to receive up to 250 patients a day, and to treat the 70-80% of them who test positive for malaria. 
 
One of the team puts up the MSF flag
 
As these clinics are mobile, they are not permanent. We are running two clinics in total, both in displaced person’s camps around Kashuga town in Masisi Province, North Kivu. As it is the summer holidays at the moment and classes are not starting again until September, we have been provided with a school on each site to run our clinics in.
 
Having a structure already in place makes it much easier to set up and take down the clinic each day. Every day we set up the reception and triage areas, consultation rooms and pharmacies. Here I am putting up one of the MSF flags so people know where to come for free malaria testing and treatment. 
 
The MSF banner flies high
 
Hopefully when people see this flag they will know they are welcome in our clinics, no matter where they are from, their age, gender, religion or political affiliation. As people in Kashuga already know MSF, our flags should be an indication that people arriving in the clinics will be triaged based on their symptoms only and that all care and treatment is free. 
 
One of the clinic tents
 
Here’s one of our clinics ready to receive patients. We added a tent to give us more space than if we had used only the school. Based on the numbers of people presenting at the local health centres, we are expecting up to 250 people every day. The wooden building on the right is the school.
 
The view through a hole in a tent wall
 
As they are temporary clinics, we are not too fussy about the state of the structure we are using, as long as it is safe and clean enough to receive and treat patients. Here are two of the consultants waiting for patients to arrive, as seen through the walls made out of plastic sheeting. If you look in the background you will see the blackboard ready for the school year. 
 
The boxes of medications on benches
 
And here’s the make-shift pharmacy! At the start, as it was an emergency set up, we didn’t have enough tables to work with, so we asked a carpenter in the community to make some, which he delivered to us after just a few days.
 
Now we just need to wait for some patients….
 
Find out what happens when the patients arrive. Read the next instalment of Emily's photo blog here.