Under Fives Week

I have been very busy doing outreach clinics this week. We notify the villagers in advance and they congregate in an open area, such as in the school grounds or under a mango tree. The plan is to check nutritional status by weighing the children, entering the value on a growth chart in their clinic… Continue reading Under Fives Week

Street Furniture

The Chief Environmental Health Officer has recently inspected Kakumbi Rural Health Centre. Our failings were outlined in a short report. “Cobwebs along walls and ceiling” – interesting, as we don’t have a ceiling, the walls of my consulting room don’t reach the roof, so I can hear everything from the churning grind of the new… Continue reading Street Furniture

The Drugs Don’t Work

In the past week, I have seen two newborn babies with gonorrhoeal infection in their eyes. Putting this in perspective, I have only seen two cases in 25 years working in general practice and sexual health in England. Most doctors believe that the infection occurs when the baby descends through the birth canal, but there… Continue reading The Drugs Don’t Work

Guide to speaking Nyanja

In the pile of “doctor stuff” at the health centre I came across an abridged English-Nyanja medical dictionary composed by Dr Martin Harris (November 2009). The pages are laminated. I am not sure what was on Dr Harris’s mind when he came up with these phrases. In the section entitled “Useful Commands”, the phrases are… Continue reading Guide to speaking Nyanja

In trouble with the Law

The last time I had a bit of bother with the law was over 40 years ago, when I was arrested for cycling down a one-way street in Cambridge. I was a medical student and should have known better, the policeman told me. So I was rather taken aback when a stern police officer sought… Continue reading In trouble with the Law

Christian Science

I could see that there was something wrong with the child’s eye as she peered over her mother’s shoulder. She was wrapped onto her mother’s back with a colourful piece of cloth. The story was pretty typical – hot body, headache, cough, abdominal pain. However, the rapid test for malaria was negative. I asked the… Continue reading Christian Science

He’s Football Crazy, She’s Football Mad

It was the first Liverpool FC shirt I have seen in Kakumbi rural health centre. The man wearing it handed over the school exercise book containing his medical records. “So,” I began, “Are you a true Liverpool fan, or do you just like wearing red shirts?” “Both,” he replied. “Ah, but would you ever wear… Continue reading He’s Football Crazy, She’s Football Mad

“My daughter, she stinks”

Every now and then, I have a perfect consultation. It gives me a warm glow inside. I’m sure that any doctor reading this knows what I am talking about. The diagnosis is spot on, you can fix the problem there and then, patient leaves the room happy and satisfied. These consultations don’t come along very… Continue reading “My daughter, she stinks”