Friday, July 01, 2005

The first 'marklate' day...

Up until Wednesday the out patient clinic was primarily focused on cure (besides the health teachings given in the clinic and on the wards). Well, that has changed. On Wednesday we held our first "MARKLATE" (Krio for 'vaccination') day- children could come for their childhood vaccinations- for Free!

A few weeks ago we met with some of the community leaders to let them know of our plan and to make sure they would communicate it with the rest of the community. Letters were read in the churches and mosques, announcing the vaccination day. Later we heard that the 'town crier' had walked the streets of Aberdeen village, ringing his bell, telling people to take their children to the clinic for their 'marklates'!

The turn-up on Wednesday morning was a bit disappointing. There were about 7 mothers with children. It was a start...but not good enough. The frustrating thing was knowing that some vaccines (measles, yellow fever, BCG) could only be given if a certain number of children would be vaccinated. The 9 month measles vaccine for example is a 10 dose vial and can only be kept for a maximum of 4 hours, or the vaccine will spoil. The government (who supplies the vaccines) told us that 40% wastage for the measles vaccine would be more. That meant we needed to have 6 children present in order to open the vial! Well, there were 3 present that needed the measles vaccine. I was hoping for the best and decided to have the patients wait awhile, and to open the vial at noon and start vaccinating. I figured that would give us until 4pm to find more children so that we would vaccinate at least 6 kids and not get in trouble for vaccine wastage! So, the nurses started vaccinating. Of course, there was a lot of noise coming out of the clinic that day- a few crying kids sure makes it sound really busy! Fortunately with time more children came in, but still not enough for the measles vaccine. (DTP and oral polio are multi dose vials and don't spoil easily). At 3pm I had one of my nurses go across the street to a compound called 'The National Dancetroop' (apparently a lot of the occupants are national dancers!). I wasn't sure what to expect...but sure enough at 330 she showed up with about 4 more children for the measles vaccines and a bunch more for some of the others. So in the end it worked out well. We were able to vaccinate 27 children in total- a good turnout for a first day!

We will definitely keep the vaccinations as part of our out patient clinic program; hoping to hold vaccination days twice a month. Maybe before the next time we'll walk the streets ourselves with a make sure enough people know about it!

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~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~