It was the last Tuesday of the year (December 28, 2018). We went to Bandar-wanaag town for community outreach. It is under the territory of Sabawanaag district, about 30 kms from Hargeisa city.
As medical students who are in their training and preparation for helping sick people, we were focusing on assessing people and asking curiously about their specific and individual health complaints instead of asking them irrelevant questions. We had excessive load of huge health seekers who were on queues for the health assistance and advice, thus we could not get time to take pictures or record their quotes. However, there have been many concurrent and horrifying issues that attracted our attention, I should share it with you:
We encountered people who are in hunger for health services; neglected people who are just about 30 kilometers from the main city of the country. These people do not even have basic health awareness in terms of the hygiene and sanitation. For example, we asked them about their water and where they get it from, we also asked the means of sterilization /cleaning they usually use. Amazingly, some of them claimed seriously that they use diesel for water cleaning! How does a toxic substance like this can be used for water sterilization?! What level of awareness is this?
They do not have MCH, therefore they should either travel with their children and women to Hargeisa or expose themselves to uneducated and blind traditional healers, they usually do the latter.
One of the heart touching facts was the story of a 16-year-old lady with dysmenorrhea (painful menses); the doctor asked her unintendedly, “Are you married?” “Yeah; and I have just aborted few months ago for the third time!” she replied.
Scarcity of the health services
The time was over while the people still on the lines! We travelled back but they were standing yet and calling for help.
While we were on our way back, just one to two kilometers from Bandar-wanaag, a woman in her thirties with a young boy stood in the middle of the street, in front of a high speed running bus. As we stopped and asked her why she was putting herself and the boy in a danger she said: “I have a terrible pain on this hand and I was informed that you are doctors. Can you please help me?” She had dirty wound with pus on one hand with very severe pain. Though we had no appropriate equipment to do incision, we cleaned the wound and gave her some antibiotics and pain killers.
In Bandar-wanaag and its vicinity, there is evident health care scarcity. We were called by an elderly man while we were rounding in the houses of the town. “Please come with me and give my sick wife a hand”, he requested. He told us that she is bedridden and can not afford to come for the health services. He also told that we can reach there in about one hour while we were on twelve noon! It was really difficult and we could not follow him to such distant place on foot. Fortunately, one of the leading doctors came up to the place, took a car and helped them; however, this is a real indicator of major health service gap.
By: Abdifatah Dahir Ali – a medical student at Hargeisa University.