Today I had to fight back the tears. We are trying to do defaulter tracing at the same time as the mortality surveillance. Defaulter tracing involves searching for children that have not returned for follow-up appointments to the nutrition programme. Some of them we simply can’t trace because the mothers cannot give us any kind of address (village name, village leader’s name, nearby landmark). They just know where their tent is. Some of the children have died. But today we found a little girl that was still alive...just. She was so tiny and seemed to be in pain with every touch.
We needed to get her to the MSF hospital. It was so upsetting to have to move her when it was the last thing she wanted. We loaded her in the car and then spotted her older sister, also far too skinny for such a young kid (maybe 4 years old). We bundled her in the car too and drove a few feet away to pick up an old woman who had badly swollen feet, one of which looked gangrenous. She was so skinny yet her hands and feet were swollen.
Apparently you often see this in people with heart failure because their hearts are failing to pump blood around the body adequately and it sequesters in the extremities. I like old people. I love their faces, full of knowledge and wisdom, each line telling a story. This woman had a beautiful face but she seemed so uncomfortable bouncing about in the land rover. At the hospital we managed to transfer her to a makeshift stretcher made of rope and I heard someone say she would probably lose her foot and the little girl might not survive....and the tears just fell.