Reflections of Dr Qasim Bhorat, Gift of the Givers Medical Team leader, who returned from Beira, Mozambique, yesterday.
Gift of the Givers and SANDF, rescuing p eople stuck in flooded areas and relocating them to the government clinic at Gwaragwara. I was on a SANDF Oryx helicopter to Gwaragwara today, where I triaged and treated some of the patients there...
A 3 year old with a 6 week old fracture, pre-cyclone, who still had the POP on... needless to say the cast was filthy and soaked... the breeding ground for infections. She already had sores, blistering and cuts... we removed the cast, dressed her wounds and strapped her leg. She and her grandmother, plus two siblings, were then evacuated to Beira with us for further management at a hospital.
A middle aged man with severe cellulitis of his left leg... from injuries sustained during the cyclone. His foot is extremely tender, but we dont have space for him on the rescue flight back... as he is caring for 4 kids, not his... but kids he helped save during the floods! I gave him two painful antibiotic injections and will take more meds for him tomorrow, God willing.
Another child, under 3 months old... examined hurriedly while we try and leave before dark. This tiny baby has acute diarrhea, so severe that the child has an excoriated bum from all the digestive fluids. Another mum and child added to our list for evacuation...
And just like that, our quota for the rescue flight back is filled... we cant take any more back to Beira. Not the old man with severe elephantiasis, neither the old lady who can hardly walk because part of her house fell on her, nor the lady with a bad chest who is too scared to leave her family behind, nor any of the 100's of children... None of the others can come with us... all of them are cold, weak, scared, hungry, traumatized and also physically ill... just not as bad as others.
For them, it's another night under the African sky... mercifully it has stopped raining tonight, but a temporary relief with more rain forecast for tomorrow... we appreciate even these small respites in this trying time.
The aftermath of cyclone and flooding is not merley a physical one, with only injuries and illness... but also a deeply emotional one as well. A very emotional experience for the many victims, none of whom had any choice in their involvement in this disaster... but also deeply emotional for those doctors and rescuers trying to assist, who have been saddled by the heavy burden of the choices they are forced to make. Choices that will have negative consequences for some... I pray that my choices today were the best ones I could have made, and that those we left behind will be there tomorrow to greet us, Amen. I also pray that the All-Mighty guide our actions and choices tomorrow, Amen.
God bless Africa.
Dr Qasim Bhorat