Dr. Keith Williams and I traveled by speedboat to a remote island in Nigeria as a part of Africa Partnership Station 2012. Tamoro Island is a 30 minute boat ride from the port in Lagos. The residents there have a small clinic available for their health care needs, but this was an opportunity for them to visit American providers and receive medicines for ailments that might otherwise go untreated.
Upon arrival, the volunteers were met on the sandy beach by the community, all eager to help.Goats, chickens and small children led the parade to the local, recently built school house, where the clinic was to be held.After a quick set-up, an orderly progression of almost 400 patients was seen during the one-day clinic.
Local doctors and nurses from the Nigerian Naval Hospital were there to lend a hand and participate in provider-to-provider information exchange. Particularly helpful was the presence of the doctor who staffed the clinic, as he was able to ensure follow-up for newly diagnosed chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
The opportunity to see diseases that we rarely or never see in the U.S. anymore is an invaluable experience. While in Nigeria, a mother brought her a three-month old infant to the clinic. The baby presented with a high fever, rash and respiratory distress. He was critically ill. After discovering that neither the mother or child had been vaccinated, the pediatrician was able to diagnose measles, with a superimposed bacterial pneumonia. We treated the baby for his pneumonia and stressed the importance of getting the baby to a hospital for further treatment.
In addition to seeing patients on Tamoro Island, we also spent two days at the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital Ojo, where they were able to see patients and exchange information with Nigerian counterparts. Dr. Williams presented a lecture entitled "Trauma Care in Austere and Hostile Environments" that was attended by all doctors and residents in the facility. They were appreciative of the opportunity to learn more on this topic.The visit concluded with thanks from the hospital's commanding officer, and promises to continue the partnerships forged on this mission.
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