I’ve been home from my first vacation for just under a week now. Already it feels like I never left Mweso.
Work continues to heat up as we are in the 4th month where the hospital is over 100% capacity. Add to this an increase in cholera and malaria and you get one busy team!
The administrative side of things is also heating up, with our medical and logistical orders and internal reporting. It is also time to complete the monthly medical report with all the project statistics. This is where I get to see the numbers that prove the high quality of work the entire team is doing. While things are busy and people are tired, our mortality rate has continued to drop. It’s amazing what a dedicated team can do in this context! And when I say team, I am referring to the national staff who are the backbone of this project, including those who work for the Ministry of Health (our partner). They work tirelessly, often separated from their families, and without them we would be a small group of expats trying to reinvent the wheel.
While I was on vacation I had a chance to reflect on what Médecins Sans Frontières is doing in North Kivu, and to share my thoughts with people I met. The theme I found myself repeating was the frustration I feel when the area is referred to as “post-conflict”. This label suggests improved security and that people are re-engaging in productive livelihoods. It also changes the type of aid offered. Population stability would mean, for example, people can afford health care. This assumption has lead to a dramatic decrease in the number of free aid programs in the area. Just a quick glance at the monthly medical report will show you that increasing malnutrition and disease disproves this assumption.
There have been massive population movements north of us due to fighting, people don’t want to use mosquito nets because they think they will be trapped if someone comes to attack in the night, and people sleep in the swamps or fields to prevent such night time surprises. This doesn’t strike me as POST-conflict.
But this is why I work for Médecins Sans Frontières. They recognize that, although chronic, this continues to be an emergency setting.
Thank you MSF for getting it!