Common Medical Problems Seen in the Cross Emergency Medical Clinic
June 28, 2015
by Dr. Gregory Bartha
It’s usually best to keep very young children and anyone with disabling symptoms in the clinic for a day or two and treat them with intravenous quinine or an artemisinin-type drug. The artemisinin drugs are derived from an herb and were developed in China. They are the most effective drugs for the type of severe malaria found in Africa. If the malaria parasites were to become resistant to them, mortality from malaria would increase substantially.
A common complaint of older people is chest, back and neck pain. Frequently, nothing abnormal can be found. I think this complaint results from the continuous stress these people are under. The stress is caused by demanding physical work, nutritional deficiency and worry about family and financial problems. Anemia, chronic infections and recurrent malaria can also contribute to the pain. Resources for investigation into these problems are limited. A physician just has to use his best medical judgment and pray that the patient will respond to the prescribed treatment.
Eye problems are fairly common. I see patients with cataracts, eye irritation and allergy and decreased near vision. Cataract surgery is available, but the expense is beyond the means of most people. Skin wounds are also common. Many are infected, deep and heal very slowly. Some require surgery. Typhoid fever, brucellosis and syphilis also occur frequently.
It has been a steep learning curve for me to familiarize myself with these diseases and symptom complexes. I’m thankful for the assistance of Oboot Luke, the doctor stationed here at the clinic. He has been an enormous help to me and has become a great friend.