Sat 26th Nov
So no protests yesterday, was all a bit of an anticlimax!
I went in to work when the others did but stopped by Limelounge, a cafe where expats commonly hang out, with Jacinta and we met one of her friends there. Constellia (not sure how to spell her name!) is lovely girl from Greece who’s working as a doctor in the Solomons for a year. The three of us only had a brief coffee at Limelounge, but it was interesting to share common frustrations about healthcare here with Constellia such as locals demanding medications when they’re sick even if they’re not necessary or appropriate, the poor management of chronic conditions and irrational use of antibiotics. Argh!
I should explain one part about living here before I go on. Expats living here commonly employ a local woman as a housekeeper who cleans the house and your clothes every few days. This woman is referred to as a House Mary. I found this odd at first, we’re perfectly capable of cleaning up after ourselves(!), but I’ve been reminded by other Aussies that we’re giving someone a job and at least it’s a job where they’re treated fairly. Our House Mary’s name’s Miriam and her sister-in-law who’s only in her 40s, is very sick in the Gyno ward at the NRH. Miriam was upset yesterday morning when she was at our place because her family and sister-in-law haven’t been told what’s going on and the family’s scared she’s going to pass away soon.
So Jacinta got Constellia on board who was happy to come to the hospital and read over the notes about Miriam’s sister-in-law so she can pass on what’s happening. We all headed to the hospital after coffee and I left them to go to the pharmacy.
It was lunchtime by the time I arrived but I soon got a call from Michael offering to take me to me lunch so he could show me some good spots. I had a great chicken and salad roll, yum! We went for a brief drive around the areas in the hills that are set back from the main street of Honiara, including a stop at the best viewpoint over the city! Then back to the hospital so I could actually do some work!
Doreen and I needed to print the finished newsletters. The technicalities of transferring the file to a computer that could be connected to a printer took a while and a lot of fiddling but we finally printed the A3 newsletter double-sided like we wanted it. Now we knew we could get 600-odd copies printed on Monday for distribution but Doreen wanted to look over the newsletter over the weekend to make sure it was all ok. So the mass printing and folding was put off til Monday.
So I spent the last hour of the day (sounds like a pretty lazy day to me I’m writing this!) making a start on a poster I’ll take out to the Western Province in just over a week’s time. It will eventually be an A3 poster with pictures demonstrating how to make up and administer zinc dispersible tablets and an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). A pictorial explanation on this poster will overcome the language barrier that’s likely in the provinces (I haven’t really gone into much about Pijin, it’s the lingua franca of the Solomons though many people in Honiara can speak English. Pijin has a hint of English to it, and I can sometimes get the gist of what people are saying, sometimes not..!) and so I need to channel my creative side...should be interesting..!
Had drinks and dinner..and more drinks..last night with the other expats here who I’ve come to know through my housemates and the Nunans. Was a great night, we’re about to do it all again over a Texan-themed poker game/party tonight! I’m certainly not any use at a poker game but I’m ready to dress up after Eddie and I raided the op-shop in town today!
Til next time, much love to all.
Mon 28th Nov
So I said I wouldn’t be much use at a poker game...but after Jo and Erin taught me the basics when I got there and with some beginner’s luck, I did ok! Was a great night :)
Had a lazy day on Sunday. As I said previously about when I arrived a week ago, nothing much happens in Honiara on a Sunday.
On a sad note, Miriam’s sister-in-law passed away this morning at the NRH. Jacinta and Constellia managed to find out that she was suffering from well-advanced cervical cancer but the family didn’t have the money or the time to take her back to their village so she could pass away more comfortably. This would be a very difficult time for them.
I spent most of today at the hospital today, was probably the best day yet! Worked with Michelle today, an Australian pharmacist who just got back from touring areas in the Western Province with James, another local pharmacist who works at NRH. Michelle and I took off mid-morning to visit the 7 clinics in Honiara and distribute zinc sulphate tablets and new diarrhoea treatment cards because it’s said there’s possibly an outbreak of diarrhoea in the region at the moment but I’ll go into this more later. While most nurses we spoke to had a reasonable idea of how to use zinc, very few clinics actually had stock. This is made difficult by the fact that the tablets aren’t included in the clinic’s medication ordering sheet which goes to the Medicine Store in order to get more stock. It was great to travel around and see even more areas of Honiara that I haven’t already been through in my travels.
Got back to the hospital at lunchtime and Michelle and I headed to a meeting at 1.30 which Michael and other relevant health professionals from NRH and the clinics in Honiara also attended. It was organised to discuss the recent apparent outbreak of diarrhoea in Honiara. Some are skeptical about the extent and importance of this outbreak; data presented seem to actually represent baseline or usual levels of diarrhoea cases in the area, with spikes in the number of presenting cases seemingly correlating with previously poorly recorded data. Some criticisms of the data and its conclusions were voiced at the meeting, but a plan for the coming days and weeks was formulated in case a cholera epidemic should eventuate. We were all reminded of the signs and symptoms of cholera and everything from the logistics of medication and equipment distribution to the establishment of an isolation ward(s) in the hospital, if necessary, was discussed. This is not to say the threat of an epidemic is high, but this meeting was a good opportunity to run through such measures in the unlikely event that they’d be required.
The meeting concluded mid-afternoon so Michelle and I still had time to work on the zinc poster I started last week for distribution in the Western Province.
We spent the time taking photos of the different steps involved in preparing zinc and an ORS. Was good fun as Michelle (well her hands at least) posed with a half open ORS sachet, a dissolving zinc tablet in just a spoonful of water, amongst other shots for the poster. Yeah, it doesn’t take much.
Stopped at the markets again on the way home, I think I’m getting the hang of how to breeze through the markets like a local..! haha no, unco as always!
Much love to all, hope your Mondays weren’t too tough xoxo