Two weeks without significant rain and the failure of the pump for the hospital well left us somewhat compromised with no water to the taps or toilets for 5 days this week in the hospital. Fortunately the water tanks were full from previous heavy rain and this kept us going. Jake, our Australian volunteer, worked tirelessly with two of the locals, mending the original electric pump. The well water was restored on Thursday but is not used for drinking, so we distributed some bottles of water left by the Pacific Force last August. As we were busy during the day, we went round the staff houses by torch-light: the hospital wards were easier. We had a brief downpour last night (Friday) but we are still praying for more rain. We are hoping that some of the staff will dig wells near their houses for back-up water. One staff member has already done this and found fresh water only 18” down.
The hospital has been quiet over the last two weeks giving us all the chance to recover and catch up with administration. On Friday (7th) there was the occasion of the opening of the new market house for the hospital. This was a fun occasion with speeches from local government representatives and replies from hospital and community representatives. In addition to the new market, a 3 ton truck was presented to the women of Munda and a new generator for Tabaka Rural Training Centre which is not far from the hospital.
On Monday the new truck was put to good use with an trip to Noro for many of the female nurses and college of nursing students for a march in support of International Women’s Day. This was apparently also an enjoyable day with a worship song from the hospital staff & college students and dancing from members of the i-Kiribati community living in Rawaki and Canaan villages close to Noro. There is no doubt that the truck will be a blessing to this community.
It was good to see the twins discharged at the end of the week: the second baby was hastily delivered with the vacuum extraction (Kiwi cap) after the cord prolapsed. Although initially in need of resuscitation, he responded well.
A post-natal mother was admitted after 2 weeks with the most terrible breast abscess. It became apparent that her breast feeding technique was very poor, underlying the importance of the World Health Organisation baby friendly initiative. This seeks to encourage the best environment into which the baby is born, including skin-to-skin contact with the mother immediately after delivery and a good breast feeding technique. As nearly all mothers do breast feed here, it is an ideal situation to encourage good practice and so protect the babies from illness in the early months of life.