Mkoba Polyclinic is situated in a densely-populated suburb of Gweru in Zimbabwe, delivering essential healthcare services to a catchment area of over 47,000 people. With a staff of just 36, meeting the clinic’s obligations to every patient is a challenge. To assist, ALERT and Antelope Park provide non-specialised manpower in the form of medical volunteers to carry out administrative and observational tasks. This support allows specialised staff to concentrate on essential frontline services, such as midwifery, HIV diagnosis and treatment, and pre and post-natal attention.
Along with assisting in the maternity clinic, labour ward, baby clinic, and dispensary, and with carrying out routine patient observations, medical volunteers have been busy accompanying staff on home visits. This is an integral part of ALERT’s healthcare program, as it allows not only care for bed-ridden patients, but also psychosocial support in the community, assisting residents to meet their basic needs and contributing to their overall health and emotional well-being.
Pauline, a HIV positive mother aged 26, was visited recently. She is hardworking, growing vegetables in her garden both to feed her family and to sell in order to survive. During the visit, medical volunteers donated sufficient groceries to last for three months, allowing all of Pauline’s garden produce to be sold to cover other living expenses. Pauline was encouraged to take the medication prescribed to her to prolong her life, helping her to stay healthy and be there to take care of her baby.
Another visit was to an elderly woman named Gogo Chisara, who sells firewood as a means of survival. Having lost her three children to HIV/AIDS in a short space of time, Gogo was left alone to care for seven grandchildren; three of whom were also HIV positive and later passed on. As well as groceries that would last Gogo and her family for two months, five months’ worth of electricity was also provided. One of the grandchildren had a rash which had been left untreated, as there was no money available to buy the necessary medication. Along with the other donations, medication was purchased and Gogo was left with a small sum of money to use in an emergency.
During the visit, we discovered that one of Gogo’s grandsons, Taonga, is a talented artist. The volunteers were keen to buy his paintings and some placed orders for more of his artwork. Art supplies were donated to Taonga and the money he received from the sales of his paintings was used to pay for extra schooling.
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