Medical team treats about 700 patients in three prisons with more than 3000 inmates

by Barbara de Matos Marques/sha, 2009/08/24

During a two-weeks stay in Zimbabwe, a humedica-medical team of six doctors treated about 700 patients in three prisons with more than 3000 inmates.

The initiative carried out in June 2009 in the framework of the Prison Fellowship International-Projekts (PFI) showed that food scarcity and other forms of structural poverty are still a long way from being overcome.

Head of operations, Dr. Wolfgang Riske (Meinersen) with his team. Foto: humedica

In only seven working days, a humedica-team of six, led by Dr. Wolfgang Riske, succeeded in visiting three prisons in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, treating 701 patients as well as carrying out about 230 tooth extractions.

Dr. Riske reports: “Still, a minimum supply of basic medication is lacking, medical drugs still have to be imported. Among the variety of illnesses (19 different clinical pictures were diagnosed) those that stand out are multiple infections, like, for example, tuberculosis combined with HIV, malnutrition or vitamin deficiency.

Due to conditions of space scarcity and massive malnutrition in the prisons, it is very difficult to contain the spread of diseases. The general state of health of sick women is significantly better than that of men.

At present, there is no sufficient supply of appropriate medicines that would be necessary to combat Pellagra, a syndrome caused by the lack of vitamin B-3 (due to unbalanced nutrition consisting mainly of corn and millet).

The sick departments of the prisons should be expanded, especially on the level of laboratory techniques, in order to allow a faster diagnosis and treatment.

Since the beginning of summer, the state of nutrition of severely malnourished inmates has improved thanks to the intervention of the International Red Cross. By means of food supplement, vitamins, anthelmintic (anti-worm) therapy and antibiotics, their progress in health is accelerated and controlled weekly.

After initial difficulties regarding entry permits and the strict photography ban on the prison premises, the cooperation between the humedica-team and the local nursing staff and jail guards has been friendly and open-minded.

For me personally, this kind of work presented an emotional challenge. However, I realized once more, that we can help people in need in many countries of the earth with rather simple medical means.

I am happy about being part of the humedica-medical team and I look forward to future work.

Dr. Riske after work, new friends were made in the streets. Foto: humedica

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