We are incredibly proud of the strong relations and partnerships that we have built up in Malawi. Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and the Social Welfare Department play a key role in the care of the children that we support.
Doctor Leoni is a paediatrician at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and she visits Open Arms every Thursday afternoon. She examines babies that are showing signs of illness or slow weight gain in a space that was designed for the weekly clinic in the quarantine room.
Examinations include monitoring breathing, pulse and heart patterns as well as taking critical measurements like head circumference and spine curvature which can often give an indication of malnutrition and other health problems.
As the babies that are referred to us are often very vulnerable, this medical help is invaluable to their care. Dr Leoni works closely with Matron Eniffer Chilunga, who is a registered nurse, to manage the health of the babies that need a bit more help. And in between her visits she has been able to give advice over the phone and consult with other paediatric staff over health concerns and specialist treatment.
Improving the health of vulnerable babies
Dr Leonie examined baby Thoko at around three months old, she was weighing only 3.35kg or 7.3lbs – the average weight of a new born. Thoko had regular bottles of milk but suffered from bouts of diarrhea which was stopping her from gaining weight. After the first examination Dr Leonie treated her for Giardia, which attacks the intestine causing some of the symptoms that Thoko was suffering from.
The diarrhoea stopped but she still struggled with her weight and so was referred to the General Pediatric Clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. Thoko’s diarrhoea worsened before the clinic, so she was taken straight to the Children’s Casualty Department and admitted for care.
During her three week stay, Dr Leonie worked closely with ward staff and the laboratory, monitoring test results, overseeing her progress and providing some continuity of care. The team at Open Arms made sure there was a guardian caring for Thoko through the day and night.
After some more tests, Thoko was treated for Klebsiella Pneumonia.
It was a relief when Thoko was discharged, and fantastic to see that following her treatment she has been a different baby. No more diarrhoea, she is happy and thriving and the weight is steadily going on. Her physical development is evident in the way that she can now hold her head up and clearly recognise her care-givers.
Thanks to our supporters and partners Thoko has been given the care and treatment she needed quickly to enable her to make a full recovery. Sadly, not all babies are as fortunate, despite the interventions of doctors and our care team. But by working in partnership with Malawi’s medical and social systems we can make sure that we are doing everything we can for the babies that are referred to us to give them the very best start to life.