• Christina

Water and Soap

I felt like Dr. Snow – the British physician who pushed for removal of the handle from an offendingwater pump in London in order to stem the course of the 1854 Cholera outbreak.Except I was lugging metal stands and pails of water to thirteen different points on Nkhoma’s hospital campus in an attempt to prevent the invasion and spread of coronavirus.Ironically enough, these pails were originally designated for use in Malawi’s cholera outbreaks over the last two decades, but fortunately they had been released by management to assist our efforts now.And I wasn’t alone. Half a dozen groundskeepers and maintenance workers at the hospital helped carry the stands, distribute buckets, and fill them with water.But getting buy-in from each hospital ward, equipping the gate guards, and setting up a system for maintaining each station was an all-day process. I suppose it was good that I already turned over all my other responsibilities for these weeks since I expected to be traveling and at a conference.With flights canceled and borders on lockdown, I was free to work internally focusing on disaster preparedness.And that was good. Because our entire 250-bed hospital had only 12 bars of soap left.The pharmacist had plans to make hand sanitizer, and the senior administrative officer had an order of soap on the way, but a few days without soap in the meantime could be disastrous in terms of infection prevention.Then I realized that the money donated by our last group of medical student volunteers – the ones who left less than a week after arriving due to pandemic concerns – was exactly the amount needed to equip the hospital with the needed amounts of soap for a month.Praise God.After arranging for that procurement, we received news of additional funding opening up.I worked with the projects coordinator and the rest of our committee to put together a grant outline which would provide for the supplies, soap, and extra staffing needed to increase our capacity for the next 3 months.I wonder how different the world, and the public health scene here will look after that time.It will be cold season by then, and the potential for devastation is grim.We pray that the virus will not hit us hard, but we still prepare as best we can.

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