“Encounter in times of deepest misery”

by Markus Hohlweck, Katharina Plenk, Daniela Kampmeyer/SRA,  2011/06/04

In the middle of May a first medical team of humedica travelled to Namibia in order to help those affected by the devastating flood disaster by means of offering them medical treatment. Although the water has mostly retreated by now, there are still countless people in the flood regions and at refugee camps who depend on help.

With the purpose of supporting the local health care system, physician Dr Markus Hohlweck, paediatric nurse Katharina Plank and medical student Daniela Kampmeyer are currently working close to the city of Oshakati, in the north of Namibia. They form the medical team of humedica. Now that the end of their mission is approaching, they gave us an insight into their everyday work routine of the past few weeks.

Those affected by the floods are highly pleased about the presence of the relief assistants from abroad. In the picture: medical student Daniela Kampmeyer with a patient. Photo: humedica.

“Every morning we set out with our supply of drugs in the direction of Oshakati. Supported by the nurses of the local “Primary Health Care System” we plan the day’s mission at the local hospital.

We visit different remote villages in the flood region every day. The devastating water masses have left obvious traces and many of these so-called “outreach points” can only be reached by an off-road vehicle.

Although in the meantime the water has mostly retreated, the people here are still suffering from the consequences of the flood. Above all large stretches of flood water that have not yet drained are still causing problems to those living in the affected regions. Some of the roads here are still impassable.

Tragically, flood disasters are always accompanied by a pollution of drinking water. Hence, clean water is a scarce commodity in some of the affected regions in the north of Namibia. The majority of inhabitants use the polluted water also for drinking and cooking, since there is no other alternative.

Many of those we treat in the flood regions are suffering from diarrhoea and skin diseases. Dirt and germs, which the people inevitably come in contact with through the water, cause these complaints to be the typical disease patterns after a flood disaster.

Misery is still deep. The patients queue up correspondingly fast after the arrival of the humedica team. Photo: humedica.

An increasing problem is currently also caused by Malaria. Malaria is transmitted by mosquito stings. Right now, the flooded stretches of stagnant water are an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and they are reproducing at an uncontrollable pace. Therefore, there is a danger of the life-threatening disease spreading faster in the flood regions of Namibia.

Furthermore, bronchitis, tonsillitis, infected wounds and helminthiasis are also widespread diseases that mostly affect infants and elderly persons.

Together with the local nurses we start out from the hospital to the remote village of Eloolo, which is located at about fifty kilometres from Oshakati. The last ten kilometres of “road” turn out to be a hardly passable country lane.

We work at a classroom that serves as hospital until sunset. When it gets too dark inside the room, we have to treat the rest of the patients in the open.

The day’s efforts have paid off. In the evening, we can look back on 110 patients that could be offered medical treatment in Eloolo.

Although the remote villages of the “outreach points” are regularly visited by a team of local nurses who offer the population some basic medical treatment, there never is a doctor among those teams.

Hence, the patients and the nurses are all the more pleased about the extraordinary opportunity of benefitting from the medical expertise of our team’s physician Dr Markus Hohlweck.

Working hand in hand with local medical staff to relief those affected from their misery. Katharina Plenk with a local nurse. Photo: humedica

When talking to patients and nurses personally, we perceive their joy and surprise about the fact that people like us would travel thousands of kilometres in order to help those suffering a hard fate in Nimibia.

At the end of another long day nurse Bomerblie from Okaku finally puts it into a nutshell: “It’s so good to know that there are such encounters in times of deepest misery and that we can feel this solidarity among the people.”

Dear friends and sponsors: the humedica relief mission in Namibia is implemented with the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office.

Nevertheless, we still depend on your support in order to offer active help the flood victims in Namibia also in future and to help them overcome the times of crisis after the devastating floods.

Please support our efforts by means of making a donation to the account below:

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Flood relief Namibia
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support our relief efforts by means of a donation via our online form. Or you can send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and support us with a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica relief projects. Thank you very much!

Team photo with a local employee and the humedica coordinators. From right to left: Coordinator Jörg Eich, Coordinator Maren Kuchler, physician Dr. Markus Hohlweck, paediatric nurse Katharina Plenk, medical student Daniela Kampmeyer. Photo: humedica

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