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Ng’ombe’s desperate health situation

by Frank Masanta Jr.

In brief

Ng’ombe´s clinic lacks everything: space, staff and up-to-date equipment.

Ng’ombe´s clinic lacks everything: space, staff and up-to-date equipment.

Ng’ombe is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Lusaka agglomeration. The health situation is tough – and cooperation with teachers can help to improve matters.

There are communal latrines and communal wells in Ng’ombe, but in the rainy season, they cannot be kept separate, and outbreaks of bilharzia and other unpleasant ailments are common. Tuberculosis is a serious problem too. Ng’ombe has only one small clinic, but it lacks staff and up-to-date equipment. An old couch serves as operating table, and there is no proper lighting or emergency generator. The facility is small, and the waiting lines are long. The people who work in the clinic are used to improvising.

Ignacious Bulongo heads the clinic. He is used to daily frustrations. It bothers him that his institution does not have a power generator, whereas the bar across the street does. He worries about the impact unemployment has on the community. Without jobs, many young people become bored and frustrated, turning to substance abuse and sexual promiscuousness. His team has to deal with sexually transmitted diseases often.

Bulongo, the clinic director, is a caring man. Since he knows that teachers are often the first people to recognise when children are sick, he has begun to cooperate with Frank Masanta´s Sun-spring Charity School on training local teachers to identify typical symptoms of illnesses (also see article by Frank Masanta). The idea is to ensure timely treatment, which the Angels of Mercy, a non-governmental programme, can administer. This programme is funded by the Healthy Kids/Bright Future Organisation in collaboration with the national Ministry of Health and the Ng’ombe Clinic. (fm)

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