Strategic Partnerships to Provide Better Health Care for Remote Communities
Story by Mandy Glass. Photos by Dr Rebecca Williams, Dr Simon Ganal
PART 3: Two flights, two different locations, two boys, two medical emergencies
A boy with severe fractures
Do you remember the recent report about the Malaumanda Health Patrol?
After the weekend, our MAF aircraft returned to Malaumanda to collect some of the team’s equipment they had left behind due to weight limitations. At the same time, the pilots were able to pick up Simon*, a young boy, about 16 or 17 years old, who had fallen from a tree resulting in severe fractures.
“I was just thinking how fortunate for them that we had left our cargo behind,” shared Dr Rebecca Williams, Medical Superintendent of Enga Baptist Health Services, “and that we had been delayed an extra day in Malaumanda especially with no way for them to communicate with the radio being down. Most likely, if the young man had been left for some weeks, he would have developed sepsis and died. He had severe fractures of his hip and his heel bone, and a dislocated elbow. He had lost a lot of blood and his haemoglobin level was far below normal. It was very fortunate he didn’t puncture his lung or have any injuries to his abdomen.”
“He had the fall on Thursday afternoon and had to wait the whole weekend for the plane. His wound was quite offensive and dirty. We took him into the theatre the same day to sort out his fractures, wash out his wound, and reduce the elbow dislocation. We were also able to give him 1 unit of blood. He will most likely be here for several months.”
A boy with an acute appendicitis
Do you also remember the other report about the Sapmanga Health Patrol?
One of the two critically ill patients who were airlifted for further treatment at the Etep Hospital was Robert*, a 15-year old boy, who showed up to the consultation clinic at Sapmanga with his mother.
Dr Simon reported: “They heard about the medical team being in Sapmanga and walked around 2 hours to see the medical team. Robert had suffered for 2 weeks from abdominal pain. It started from suddenly, that he felt a strong pain around his umbilicus. He didn’t want to eat anymore and started vomiting. Even now after 2 weeks the pain was still present and it was no small miracle, that he was able to make the distance to the hospital.
“During the examination, he had a high temperature and a very tender abdomen. With our pocket ultrasound, we could see free fluid in his abdominal cavity and multiple fluid field ‘balloons’. We diagnosed an acute appendicitis and thanks to MAF we could provide the young man with quick access to health care.
“He was operated on the next day at Etep Rural Hospital, recovered quickly and could finally enjoy his journey and explore some new places around the hospital area.
“The mortality rate (possibility of dying) due to an untreated appendicitis is considerably high and a life-threatening condition.
“That example reminded us, how crucial the access to health care is and how much we desire to improve access to health care by going out to the ones who need it most.”
* names of the two boys changed