Gidan Bege

7 02 2009

Once a week this city ministry hosts a free medical clinic for poor widowed women. They also give them lunch (spicy rice and beans) and a Christian program. I (Kimberly) went with a nurse, who sees each patient. She alone is the ‘doctor’. She treats the women for high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, colds, etc. Kelly was an ob/gyn nurse before she found herself in family practice in Nigeria. At first she did not feel equipped to be treating patients on her own, but when she discovered their few options, she decided to give all she knows and treat them the best she can. She does refer patients to the hospital for x-rays, or more advanced treatment when necessary, but then they have to come up with some money and follow through with the referral. The poor sometimes have access to ‘community health workers’ who may have gone through a 9 month Nigerian school covering everything they can in that short time. They also can visit their local ‘medicine man’ or ‘witch doctor’ who will treat them with anything he has on hand. These ‘medical workers’ sound about 100 years behind western medicine.

There were six of us who gathered in a small, rundown room. First a Nigerian woman took the information from the patient on 1 bench. At the next bench Kelly gave examinations and talked with the women about their symptoms. She has learned some Hausa, but also used her helpers to interpret. The patient then gave her ‘card’ to the next worker who dispensed medicine that Kelly has written down.The ‘pharmacy’: It is in the same small room with everyone else. The drugs are in cabinets, shelves and bins. The most commonly used drugs sit on the table. We fill a tiny plastic bag with 7 days worth of medicine. The patient is given her little baggies with pills and told how many of each to take per day. They do not distinguish between how many times per day. So, if 3 capsules need to be taken in a day, the patient can take it all at once, or spread it out. Directions are not written out because very few of the women are literate. I found this frustrating because each drug matters how often it is given. The community health workers didn’t seem to understand this. The mentality of the patients and the workers is that more is better. The available drugs are donated or purchased with donated money, so the choices are slim. Any container possible gets used over and over, so it was challenging to figure out what drug was in what container. If the patient needs a liquid medication they need to bring their own bottle/container. My first instinct was to think how I could clean, organize, inventory, and write out appropriate instructions. I don’t know if that could help or not. It may be more helpful if I learn some Hausa first.

I wish I had pictures to share, but the Muslim women do not want their pictures taken. This ministry mainly serves Muslim women who have no family or have been cast out of their family. It is AMAZING how God has called wonderful Nigerian and western missionaries to love these women, treat their needs and offer them the hope we have in Jesus.




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7 02 2009
1-6 February « The Paynes

[…] I ventured out to the Gidan Bege medical outreach this week. It was very eye opening and I am still trying to sort and process all that I saw. It hurts my heart to see how few resources there are for so many people in need. All the details are in a separate post here […]

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