Five-year old Okon was admitted in July and discharged on the 11th, the day Comic Relief was at the hospital to do our grant approval 'reveal'. On that day Okon and his mom were full of smiles, because after being treated for malaria for four days, he was well enough to go home.
Today, when I came to the hospital, I saw a man and child sitting on the bench outside my office door. The child looked very familiar. It was Okon. Everything about him was the same, except for the smile. He was no longer smiling. For some reason, he is sick with malaria again and it has made him very weak. He has had two blood transfusions in the past two days. I hope he gets better quickly. And starts smiling again.
It makes me wonder how many children get sick again shortly after being discharged from the hospital. And why? And how many of them do not come back? And how many of those die? It would be sad to know that we aren’t fully curing patients. I have thought about this a lot in the past because I know that despite free health care, not all of the drugs are free to outpatients. While a patient is admitted everything might be free, but when they are discharged they may need to pay for some of the medication. Does that happen? Or do they go home partially treated, only to get sick again within a few days or weeks. Or do we treat one condition and overlook another. I suppose it is all possible but I sincerely hope we are treating all patients well the first time around.
In Okon’s case there are a lot of questions that can be asked. Did the doctor prescribe the right medication on discharge? Did the nurses dispense it to the mom? Did anyone explain to the mom how to give the medication? If mom had the medication, did she give it to him properly? Does he sleep under a bed net? I don't know the answers. Let’s just hope that he gets better quickly, and that when he is discharged it will be clear to all what needs to happen.