Photo: David Bude examines a patient at the MSF clinic in Pibor. South Sudan 2012 © Robin Meldrum/MSF
Voice From the Field: A Clinic Deep in the Bush
The Clinic under the Tree
I chose a big tree, a good one with plenty of shade, and I cleared the brush underneath it. I had a plastic sheet and I gave it to my wife to make a sort of rough shelter. She cut some branches and made a frame, like a manyatta house, and we put the plastic sheeting over it. And then I made a wooden platform, like a rough bed, to keep the medicines off the ground. This was my pharmacy.
We cut some poles to make benches, so there was a waiting area for people to sit. And with poles and mud I made a sort of consultation room, so when a patient needed treatment I would see them in this “room.”
We got a message through to the MSF base team in Pibor town about where we were, and they sent some drugs by boat to the closest place a boat could get to—medicines for antenatal care, for diarrhea, for malnourished children, antibiotics, dressings, malaria drugs, even registration cards and a register for keeping proper records.
Spreading the Word
I found two of the health promoters from MSF’s Lekwongole team. They went around passing the message that if your child is sick with anything—diarrhea, eye infections, respiratory diseases, fever, or any injuries—they could come and see us.
And they came. A lot of people. Sometimes I saw 50 patients in one day. Malaria was common, and [so was] pneumonia. Children that were malnourished—we admitted 16 for malnutrition—cases of diarrhea because there was no clean water, and even a tuberculosis patient who needed a follow-up. I kept working until the supply of medicines ran out.