It has been 5 months since my husband and I, together with our children, arrived at the Zavora Clinic in Mozambique. COVID-19 was already making headlines across the world, however, it was unclear how it would impact us. We are now at the stage where COVID-19 cases are being confirmed in surrounding townships so it seems the virus has arrived at our doorstep.
The past few months have brought about many changes to the way we practice on a daily basis. Patients are educated every morning about COVID-19 including measures to prevent transmission of the virus. They are required to wash their hands with soap on arrival, wear masks and maintain a 1-2 metre distance from others at all times. There is also a designated person who identifies patients with flu-like symptoms on arrival. These patients are placed in a separate waiting area and seen first so they can leave the premises as soon as possible. Staff are supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE), including gowns, masks and gloves and have access to hand sanitiser. Eye shields are worn during higher risk exposures such as consultations involving patients with flu-like symptoms. Gowns and masks are sterilised daily so they can be reused in order to sustain our PPE supply.
COVID-19 has been looming up in the background for several months and it is likely that we will be surrounded by it shortly. This does not change the daily struggle we face with malaria. We treat many cases of malaria every day and a large proportion of these patients are not well. Some present as life-threatening emergencies, particularly young children. Treatment for malaria is in short-supply and our main supplier of medication is unable to provide us with the number of treatments we need. We have therefore had to source treatment privately. There was recently a day where I went to work knowing we did not have malaria treatment to give. As patients tested positive for the disease we placed them aside and asked them to wait whilst we tried to find a way we could help these people. It was wonderful to see how God made a way and every patient that day went home with the treatment they needed. The struggle for enough malaria treatment continues but I marvel to think that to this very day God has always provided us with what we need. This is not only the case for malaria treatment, but also in many other aspects of the clinic. I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews 11 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him”. We all face daily trials, and perhaps even more so due to COVID-19, but my prayer is that these trials will increase and perfect our faith.
The process of registering Doctors For Life International’s clinic in Chikuluma Malawi started in 2017 already. The chiefs of this community gave land after DFL conducted a free medical and eye surgery campaign in this region. The need for a permanent health facility became clear and thus DFL started registration. The construction of the clinic was finalised in around October 2019.
We are so thankful to report that we just finished two successful medical outreaches in Malawi. Herewith just some brief feedback; The Doctors For Life International (DFL) teams camped at both places and each area offered its own challenges. The first outreach was near Mangochi (at the southern tip of lake Malawi). At first it was a challenge getting enough patients but the local tribal chiefs were very supportive and even brought patients to us! In total we saw about 725 eye patients. We did about 34 eye surgeries (cataract, trachoma and even cancer removals), treated 220 with eye drops and 267 received free reading and distance eye glasses. Dr Theunis Botha was the eye specialist and Miss Sandra Grunewald the ophthalmic nurse. Mrs Angelika Bohmer was the general nurse and microbiologist Mr Pieter Bos assisted with sterilization. Local Malawi medical staff also assisted. The school grounds where the team had to camp were especially open for health education sessions. Hundreds of children surrounded our campsite! The second area where we worked was more to the south in the Phalombe district, Mambala, on the eastern border of Malawi and Mozambique.
We worked there last year as well. The local Member of Parliament, the honourable MP Dennis Phiri gives us his full support in this remote and needy area. Dr Bruce Philips was the eye specialist and he was joined by his wife Nikki who assists him in his private practice. Miss Grunewald stayed on for the 2nd outreach as well, working with Dr Philips in the theatre. A total of 38 surgeries were performed under challenging conditions. Mr Bekanese, a Malawian ophthalmic technician also assisted at times. It was very hot and the temperature outside reached 40 degrees Celcius at times.
We mostly did cataract surgery at the second place but in addition to the eye work the second team was also joined by dentist Dr Herbert de Graaf who pulled 345 teeth in one week! He also screened about 317dental patients. On the final evening the dental team worked until 11pm and even Dr Philips helped some dental patients with sutures after he was finished with the eye operations. About 200 patients received eye glasses and about 100 were helped with eye drops and medication. The community was extremely thankful and open to DFL’s help in the region. The medical work also opened new doors for sharing the love of Christ in these needy regions. Devotions were held before the start of the clinics each day and was received with open arms. Many children also attended the meetings at the schools where the teams camped. Lastly, we are making plans to move a specially designed mobile clinic to Malawi to start our second permanent clinic (our first one was started in Zavora Mozambique back in 2003). We plan to use the mobile clinic in Malawi, a large 4 ton unit pulled by a truck that was donated by medical Mission International, until we obtain sufficient funds to construct a building there also. We have been allocated land in a remote area called Chikuluma, near the Lewonde National Park. Our first step is to register DFL in Malawi and the process is underway. We are not sure how long this will take but we hope it won’t take too long!
Thank you to all who joined hands with us with on this Malawi medical outreach. Your contribution made a huge difference to the lives of the many people who can see again and the positive influence it has on whole communities.
By Gods grace thousands of lives in Southern Africa were impacted during this past year. We are sincerely thankful for the privilege to play our small role in this. Free medical examinations and treatment, dental care, pre-and post natal care, vaccinations, optometry and eye care is just some of the basic, yet often life saving services provided free of charge. The eye surgery program has become one of our main focus areas with the medical services we offer. The focus here is preventable blindness for example cataract and trachoma surgery. Through this program, we were able to assist many blind people to see again. These individuals’ lives are changed in a dramatic way because of this. By curing blindness through surgery people can do basic things like, cooking, eating, walking, planting, washing, reading and driving again. They are also being able to work again, teach and live productive lives in their communities while making meaningful contributions to the society.
We would therefore like to thank you for your assistance, whether financially or through prayer, during past year. We could help so many that were needy. Your contributions enabled us to render a quality medical service to the under-privileged in remote regions. It is with much appreciation that we send you this 2016 Annual report for the Medical Outreach Program (section I) and the Sihane Clinic and Maternity Ward in Zavora, Mozambique (section II). With thankfulness, Johan Claassen
Medical Outreach Program
By Gods grace Doctors For Life International (DFL) could reach out to 3 Southern African countries this year: Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique. In Botswana and Malawi the focus was primarily on cataract and trachoma eye surgery. We also assisted a large number of people with eye glasses in Malawi. In Mozambique however, general medical care and eye glasses only was provided in about 3 remote and rural areas north of our Sihane clinic, that we used as a base. The areas were:
Molepolole/Mahalapye in Botswana
Chikuluma, Phalombe in Malawi
Mambala, Mbonchera in Malawi
Three (3) Small Districts in Inhambane province (Ligogo, Cumbana and Muvamba) in Mozambique
During the above missions DFL had the following achievements: * 378 surgical procedures of which 339 were cataract and 14 trachoma. This excludes approximately 100 extra sponsored cataract surgeries that would bring the total to 478 * 744 patients received prescription eye-glasses (dark, distance and reading) (This was 698 in 2015) * 1154 eye and general examinations. This excludes the 1000s that were screened in Botswana prior to the mission there. (1064+ in 2015) * 60 dental patients (474 in 2015)
Construction, maintenance and general improvements
A number of improvements and changes have been made at the DFL clinic and property during the past year. Most of these were sponsored by friends and family members of our fulltime medical staff working at the Sihane clinic. They came to volunteer their time and did most of the work themselves for which we are thankful. Some of these included:
Two new car ports were added to protect equipment and vehicles from the blistering heat of the sun.
Improved accommodation, concrete steps, electricity and security.
Some paintwork were done at the clinic.
Improved, repainted and changed workshop area.
Improved medical storage area.
Erected fence around whole clinic and property.
Improved fruit and vegetable garden to grow food for staff.
We examined and treated about 21486 patients at our Zavora clinic during 2016. The quaterly reports showed: 1st quarter = 5748 patients 2nd quarter = 5962 patients 3rd quarter = 5405 patients 4th quarter = 4371 patients This is comparable to the amount of patients (21752) we had in 2015. During 2014 we saw 18229 and 12916 during 2013. Malaria positive cases remains to be high and the higest since the opening of the clinic. Diarrhoea is much lower due to the fact that these do not include diarrhoea caused by malaria or other diseases. In the past the diarrhoea would include these.
6008 Malaria cases (5597 in 2015, 4076 in 2014 and 5468 in 2013)
1st semester = 1446
2nd semester = 1796
3rd semester = 1497
4th semester = 1269
29 HIV cases – (19 in 2015, 67 in 2014, 68 in 2013)
1st semester = 5
2nd semester = 11
3rd semester = 8
4th semester = 5
245 Diarrhoea cases – (632 in 2015, 523 in 2014, 306 in 2013)
1st semester = 31
2nd semester = 82
3d semester = 73
4th semester = 59
It is with much appreciation that we send you this 2015 Annual report for the Medical Outreach Program (section I) and the DFL Sihane Clinic and Maternity Ward in Zavora, Mozambique (section II). With your assistance we were able to reach many lives in Southern Africa during this time. We are sincerely thankful to be able to play our small role in this. General medical examinations and internal medicine, dental care, free medication and treatment, pre-and post natal care, vaccinations, optometry and eye care is just some of the basic, yet often life saving services also provided free of charge. The eye surgery program has become a major part of our medical services. We were able to assist many blind people to see again.
These individuals’ lives are changed because of this. From basic things like, cooking, eating, walking, planting, washing to being able to work again, drive, read, teach and once again live productive in their communities. We would therefore like to thank you for partnering with us in the past year to help so many that are needy. With the assistance of Hartman, we were able to use quality medical products to assist the under-previlaged in rural and remote regions.
3 Areas remote and needy areas were reached with the main focus on eye surgery. At the fourth area we focused only on eye glasses.
Inhambane in Mozambique
Mauzi, Phalombe in Malawi
Namandanje, Mbonchera in Malawi
Sihane, Zavora in Mozambique
During these missions the following accomplishments were made: 162 surgical procedures of which most were cataract surgery on blind people. 3 surgeries to remove eye cancer. 698 patients received prescription eye glasses 212 internal medicine examinations (General practitioner examinations) 1064+ eye examinations. 200+ indirect eye examinations through the surgery in Inhambane We did not received those stats from the government 474 dental Patients 595 Teeth Extractions
We examined and treated about 21 752 patients at our Zavora clinic during 2015. This is a new record compared to only 18229 during 2014 and 12916 during 2013. Part of the increase is the huge number of malaria cases we saw. The Mozambique government calls it a malaria pandemic. Basically most (except HIV/AIDS) number of conditions increased. 5597 were Malaria cases – (4076 in 2014, 5468 in 2013) 19 HIV cases – (67 in 2014, 68 in 2013) 632 Diarrhoea cases – (523 in 2014, 306 in 2013) 1165 Wound care (669 in 2014) There was also an increase in live births. 241 Babies were delivered compared to 231 in 2014, and 208 in 2013. Over the past few years since the clinic was constructed by SODA. We have passed the “one thousand” mark!
It is with much appreciation that we take a look at the reports since January 2013 to the present for the Medical Outreach Program of Doctors For Life (DFL) called Aid to Africa. Both our mobile or short term medical missions (A), as well as the DFL Sihane Clinic and Maternity Ward in Zavora, Mozambique (B) fall under this program.
With the assistance of many, we were able to impact thousands of lives in needy and often extremely isolated areas in Southern Africa. General medical examinations, dental care, free medication and treatment, pre-and post natal care, vaccinations and eye care are just some of the basic, yet often life saving services provided free of charge. Thank you very much to everybody who contributed thus far. We look forward to working together with you in the coming years.
A: Mobile and short term Outreaches
Medical Accomplishments for 2014 so far
4 needy areas were identified and reached with the main focus on eye surgery:
2 in Malawi, Mbonchera and Nombazo
1 in Mozambique, Inhambane
1 in Botswana, Maun
423 surgical procedures of which most were cataract surgeries on blind people.
600 approximate prescription eye glasses
Thousands of people were screened and treated in various surrounding communities during these campaigns
Medical Accomplishments for 2013
7 remote and needy areas were reached with the main focus on eye surgery:
2 in Malawi, Tekheranie and Kasinje
2 in Zambia, Mbanga and Mitete
2 in Angola, Mucusso and Calai
1 in South Africa, Kingscliffe
248 surgical procedures of which most were cataract surgery on blind people.
211 dental procedures
742+ prescription eye glasses (actually approximately 800 )
2671 internal medicine examinations (General practitioner examinations)
1438 + eye examinations in total
4474 total patients were treated and examined
B: DFL Sihane Clinic and Maternity Ward, Zavora, Mozambique
We examined and treated approximately 12 916 patients at our Zavora clinic, of which:
5468 were Malaria cases
21 other STI’s
208 babies were delivered during 2013
670 deliveries over the past few years since the maternity ward opened
Doctors For Life is attending the 2011 South African Medical Association conference at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference starts on Thursday 15 until Saturday 17 September. Members, friends and interested parties can visit our stand in the exhibition hall.]]>