There are no such things as “plans,” here in Lesotho, Africa. You can plan all you want, but when things are happening, they’re happening, and you can either hop on the bus, or try to stick to your “plan” as well as you can.
So Tuesday, Andrea and I decided to hop on the bus. Literally. Just as we’re walking to the hospital to start our day, we run into one of the doctors, Dr. Tibenda. Making small talk, we find out he’s going to an outreach clinic that day in Pitseng. Interesting… Then, as we start heading to the obstetrics ward, we spot another two doctors, Jair and Rooland, and deciding to take a change to jump an opportunity, we ask if they’re going to the outreach clinic too, and if we could come along. They wave for us to follow them, of course we can go along! So instead of our working off our plans for the day, we jump on the bus to Pitseng.
The clinic is about 45 minutes away, just a single small building. Maluti Hospital sends people every Tuesday morning: a driver, a nurse to take money, a nurse to distribute medicine, a nurse to take blood pressures of patients receiving “family planning” (aka birth control), and one or two doctors to see the patients. Patients come in either to get a check-up with a doctor, or to receive their monthly/bi-monthly/tri-monthly “family planning.” Those coming in for a check-up wait in line on benches grouped to one-side of the waiting room, those coming in for family planning wait on the opposite side.
Each patient carries a little book with them – essentially their medical history file. This little book serves all the purposes of a medical file at your own doctor in the US; you even need it to enroll in primary school. Each time you go to a doctor, the doctor writes down his/her diagnosis and prescription in your little book. You take your book to the bus where they collect money through a window and give you a receipt for your prescription. Then you take your receipt to the pharmacist, and she gives you your medicine. Done!
Andrea and I spent the day asking questions and observing different aspects of the outreach clinic to get a fuller picture of how the clinic worked. We took plenty and plenty of notes so we’ll have to sort through all of those and do some brainstorming to see where we might be able to help or make some improvements. It’ll be tough since, because it’s an outreach clinic, any tests doctors might want to run have to be rapid diagnosis tests (tests like pregnancy tests where it shows the results immediately). Andrea and I also think the outreach clinic might be a good place for sexual education to happen as well, seeing as so many women come in for family planning.
Overall, really informative day. And, as an added bonus got some really fantastic views of the Mountain Kingdom as we drove to and from Pitseng. But you’re probably bored of hearing about those by now, anyway, haha. I’m telling you, man, I don’t know if I’ll ever get bored of these mountains.
Also because most of you only skim this for photos, here’s a photo of me, my partner Andrea, and one of the doctors who takes care of the outreach clinic, Dr. Tibenda. He’s pretty badass.