I was going to write today about all the success stories in our inpatient nutrition centre. Everyday, I discharge healthy, plump(er) children from the ward. It’s very satisfying to see these children go from severe malnutrition complicated by pneumonia, struggling for air on an oxygen machine, to happily eating on their mother’s lap.
But plans changed last Sunday, as all things do very quickly in Congo (DRC).
The noisy clanging of one church’s “bell” woke me at 5AM (I am convinced it is actually a mother teaching her teenage son a lesson by clanging a pot for 10 minutes over his head). Usually this signals that I have 1 hour left of sleep before the church across the street gives their bell a go. Thankfully on Sundays I can sleep in! So at the oh-so-late hour of 7:30, I was up greeting the beautiful sun. It was a particularly wonderful sight because we have entered the rainy season! I lazed around for the morning and then went for a walk through town and to the Mweso river.
On returning from my walk, I was welcomed home by the news that there were 3 potential cholera cases in the hospital. MSF has not seen cholera since February, and even then it was only 2 cases the whole month. So off I went with Hosanna, our Supply Logistician, to check out the situation. By this time there were 4 patients in our CTC (Cholera Treatment Centre), 2 of them a father and child. On entering the CTC, deafening thunder started to sound. The weather is always so prophetic here! We quickly checked out the disinfection stations, then mobilized 48 litres of IV fluids from our stock warehouse, just as the sky opened up and it started to pour. Then we were off to find the on-call lab tech to perform the confirmatory testing. Within 3 hours of hearing the news we had confirmation, 3 of the 4 patients were positive for cholera.
Thankfully all of the patients are stable on IV fluids. Tomorrow will bring full scale planning to ensure protocols are followed and cases can be traced. We will send people to the affected communities to look for other cases and possible sources of spread.
Here we go! Wish us luck!