Tuesday June 17 2014
Today was Child Welfare Care day at the clinic. I arrived early to help Mercy and Leana with the set-up of the clinic. Today we would have women from the village come and weight their toddlers, chart their growth and make sure their vaccines were up to date. I saw Kofi today, he was the first child I carried on my back, and he must be about two months old now. His grandmother was the one who brought him today. He is just as cute as I remember him with big round eyes and curly brown hair. After all the women came and went Leana began to tell about the way health insurance works in Ghana. She explained that every Ghanaian citizen has the option to either get their own private insurance or get the national health insurance. The problem with the health insurance is that many people think that national health insurance covers everything when in fact it doesn’t cover all the medicines that a person may need. I myself have seen it multiple times at the clinic when patients come in and when its time to pay for the malaria medicine they need, they do not have a money to pay. Mercy and Leana are nice enough to allow them to take the medicine home and bill them later. At the end of the month, when it is time for the clinic to send their bill to the insurance, Leana and Mercy have to go on a manhunt to collect all the unpaid medical bills.
By now I have been working almost a month at the clinic, by far; malaria has been the epidemic striking Tafi Atome. Spearing no victims, both young and old come in with the same symptoms: high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches. Treated with a simple 3 day dose of pills, Ghanaians treat it as it were a common cold. Every time a patient comes in with any of the symptoms I test them for malaria. The test is a simple first response strip that determines if a person has malaria with a couple drips of the patient’s blood.
There was a toddler patient who came in a couple of weeks ago with a few of the malaria symptoms. The only thing to do was to give him the proper dose of medicine and send him on his way home. Looking back on his medical history, the boy was diagnosed with malaria previously 7 times, and he was only 2 years old. Leana later labelled each diagnosis as “simple malaria.” All I could think about how much of an oxymoron ‘simple’ and ‘malaria’ were.