Delivering Malaria Care in Senegal: Part three

This post was written by 2014 GHDI graduate, Daniel Hodson. This is the third post in a three part series by Daniel. Click here to read part one. This series was originally published by Global Health Deliver Project.

Heroes

Counting malaria cases, forecasting future cases, translating estimates into specific needs for specific sites, and physically moving these supplies from point A to point B – I have learned these to be very complicated tasks, no less so here in the southern half of Senegal.

Intense doubt is common. I constantly wonder and worry if I am doing anything right at all. And I regularly feel entirely lost. But, I try to draw motivation from the progress in places like Sare Moussayel and in the character of health workers like Yaya.

If supplies had not been delivered all the way to Sare Moussayel, what would have happened to the hundreds of cases Yaya has treated this year? A few patients would have surely made the long trek to Badion, many would have sought treatment in The Gambia, some would have endured the bout and taken another step towards partial immunity, and surely others would have died right there in their homes, never knowing how simply they could have been treated and saved.

Daniel-Hodson-Bike1

Sare Moussayel is only one (albeit our most dramatic) example; at this writing, there are exactly 100 community sites throughout the district.

It can be hard to avoid the trap of seeing only numbers or indicators or points on a map, but it behooves us to always remember that these are real people in specific places with unique sets of resources, challenges, and needs, each with his or her own story.

In our district, I have been graced with the opportunity to travel to many of these places, to meet many of these people, and to learn many of their stories. It has been a privilege in equal proportion to share a meal or the mattress with villagers, community health workers, health post nurses, district leadership, and our district medical director and to share ideas with national level staff. The district first welcomed me with far more respect and trust than I had earned or deserved, and throughout the ensuing hundreds of solitary kilometers biked around the district to asses the status of the district’s stock or to confirm the arrival of tests and medicine, or during the quiet, yet anxious all-nighters to crunch numbers or divide up supplies, it has been an honor to finally have the opportunity to directly address one of the most limiting factors to health care delivery in southern Senegal and to give directly back to my host district.

Each rainy season changes the landscape dramatically. I may share with my host district a few moments, but the true heroes in this one particular story are the doctors, nurses, and community health workers who will live, work, and die right here, where my footprints will be so quickly washed away.