“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Cor. 1: 3-4
I know that we’ve already covered a lot in the CAMM newsletters about the Covid-19 pandemic In Malawi. That is because it seems to influence everything we are doing with the mobile clinic work. Although our house and clinic staff and volunteers have observed strict Covid precautions since we resumed our clinics in October, many people in the country did not. The virus wasn’t real to people because there were few daily cases and deaths. In the rural areas outside of town, we never saw a mask. But Covid-19 case numbers had been increasing steadily in the country since December, to over 1,000 cases a day in January. The President of Malawi declared a state of national disaster almost 3 weeks ago and announced the enforcement of mask wearing in public, closed schools, and pleaded with people to social distance, avoid funerals and all gatherings over 50 people, and to wash their hands often. The South African variant of the virus is here and is making many more people sick in this second wave, mainly in the larger cities like Lilongwe. There have been more funerals than usual in our neighborhood. But the increase in people following precautions seems to be making a difference already, with new cases dropping this week into the 400-500 range throughout the country. More testing is being done, and there is a new Covid isolation center set up in a stadium here, hopefully with more oxygen and intensive care available and there is talk of a vaccine being here by next month.
Meanwhile, we aren’t yet seeing Covid in our remote villages, that we know of. Every patient is expected to wear a mask, wash hands and are kept at a distance from each other with the help of our volunteers. Our staff wears PPE and works mostly outside. Most clinic days there are over 200 patients coming to us between 9am and 1 pm, including well under-five children, pregnant women, family planning clients, and those who need HIV testing and counseling. The main outpatient diagnosis is malaria, due to the rainy season and plenty of mosquitos. At our Msambo clinic recently, there was a one-year-old girl who came in seizing with malaria. We gave medicine to stop the seizure, treated her fever and gave an injection for the malaria. Vicar David Kalima, who often helps out on clinic days, was asked to pray with the mother when we told her the baby had to be hospitalized. We took them to Kamuzu Central Hospital where she was treated, and Vicar told us the next week that the child was home and doing fine. Relieving the suffering of malaria is one way we give comfort in our work. Treating children with terribly itchy and infected scabies with the proper medicine (in a donated U.S. pill bottle) at low cost, and giving sunscreen and a hat to the mother of an albino child are some others. One little thing I enjoy doing, is picking out a colorful child-sized cloth mask, bought or made by wonderful ladies in the States, and giving them to a boy or girl who is school age and doesn’t have one.
Thank you for praying for Gary and I, our staff and patients. The Lord comforts us in times of stress. The donations and financial support are helping us get through this challenging time. We pray the God of all comfort guard and keep you as the troubles of Covid continue in the U.S. as well. Yours in Christ,
Nurse in Charge – Lutheran Mobile Clinic (Malawi)