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Elective Competition Winner 2017

By Kerry Bramley

Elective Competition Winner 2017

Meet Kerry Bramley, a medical student and one of the winners of our Wesleyan Elective Competition 2017.  She's sharing with us her elective experience in Malawi and the UK.
Here's Kerry second update on her elective trip in Malawi.  

My Elective in Malawi - Part 1

After 4 weeks in Malawi, working with World Medical Fund (WMF), I have now returned to the UK.

Kerry-4x4 truckThree times a week, we would travel to rural villages in a 4x4 truck to run clinics for children.

The first task of the morning was ensuring that we had enough stock of medications to take with us.

After packing up the van, we would travel between 15 and 90 minutes to a village where we would see between 100 and 250 children!

Some days we would be based under a tree, other times we would be in a building, such as a church. Kerry-travelling

On arrival, the children would be weighed before queuing to see us.

We were taught to speak some Chichewa so that we were able to take a history. This was hard to begin with and I had to rely on my supervisor to help translate during the first few days.

We would then exam them and send them for a Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (MRDT) if we had the test in stock. Otherwise, due to the high prevalence of malaria in many of the communities, any patients who presented with fever, headache and/or abdominal pain, would be prescribed treatment.

Many of the children had coughs. Surprisingly, this was one of the things that I found most challenging. The majority of the patients had a short history of a non-productive cough and no signs on examination of their chest. In the UK, the most likely diagnosis would be viral, and so antibiotics would not be recommended.

However, in Malawi, these rural communities only have access to healthcare once a month, so there was a much lower threshold for prescribing antibiotics.

Once a week, we would help to run HIV clinics. Kerry-church

Children with diagnosed HIV would attend in order to receive a check up and a month's supply of anti-retroviral (ARV) medications. I found this clinic to be particularly challenging, as many of the patients were not compliant with their medications.

As many of the children were young, it was the parents who were failing to administer the medications appropriately. This was frustrating, as it was clearly having a negative impact on the child.

Whilst I was there, WMF introduced a counselling service so that patients with poor compliance and their parents or guardians, could be counselled on the importance of taking their medications.

Kerry-HIV-ClinicAnother service that WMF provides is HIV education. This consists of a half day session where the WMF nurse would speak to a group of children and teenagers about HIV and it's impact e.g. transmission, management, illnesses that may arise if ARVs are not taken properly etc.

I thought this session was great as it was very engaging. They got us involved by asking us to do a quiz after the talk, and there was prizes given out at the end.

Overall, I had a great time with WMF and it opened my eyes to some of the challenges faced in developing countries.

Watch out for some more updates about her elective adventures from Kerry!

Are you going on an elective?  Head off on your travels safe in the knowledge that we've got you covered for problems such as cancellations for exam re-sit cancellations, HIV needle-stick injuries or unforeseen medical expenses with elective insurance from Wesleyan.  

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