Essential Medicine Delivery

In 2010, WAM visited Kabudula Hospital to find that they were out of just about every useful medicine, including acetaminophen (Tylenol) and diazepam (seizure medication). WAM Vice President Dr. Kevin Bergman recalls children with 104° fever were being sponged down by nurses because that’s all they could do, he also witnessed children with cerebral malaria who had uncontrollable seizures. Kevin says “Parents and healthcare staff were so frustrated and saddened and felt powerless. It was a horrible situation, and that day we knew that we had to help Kabudula.”

Out of this visit, WAM’s Essential Medication Delivery program was developed.

The cold storage pharmacy at Kabudula Hospital

The cold storage pharmacy at Kabudula Hospital

Our Global Health Fellows have been working closely with the Kabudula Community Hospital pharmacy tech, Dave, along with the other staff there to determine which medications are needed each month. Because Kabudula Community Hospital is a government-owned clinic, the Malawian government provides some medications to the hospital. There are other donors that provide and support the government in supplementing the necessary medication. Despite this, there are some medications needed at the hospital which are not provided due to lack of funds or other barriers. For example, the dental team at Kab was without dental lignocaine (numbing agent) for several months recently, not because they ran out or the government doesn’t supply it, but because the government only buys from certain pharmacies and those pharmacies did not have any. So, because we have no restrictions on where we can buy our medications from, we were able to keep the dental team working hard while they waited for a restock of lignocaine from other sources.

Currently, it is rainy season in Malawi. Rainy season is very important here where a large portion of the population is subsistence farmers, they rely on the rain to nourish their crops so they can harvest them and have food and money for the rest of the year. Rainy season also brings about higher incidence rates of diseases including malaria, cholera and asthma. We always do our best to take into consideration seasonal and cultural factors that may influence which diseases are more prevalent at different times of the year. Right now, cholera and asthma are big concerns for the hospital. So, we focused this month’s delivery on these areas by providing an extra supply of chlorine and salbutamol.

When Dave opened the box, his immediate reaction was “This is the best stuff that you have delivered.” He was so pleased with what we had given the hospital this month because it will really help to address the issues of cholera and asthma that many people are dealing with right now. Each month, Dave helps us brainstorm what the hospital needs to have delivered. He really likes our program because we have no limitations to what products we can provide, we are not bound by any contracts or focused specifically on treating one disease. We fill in the gaps left by other suppliers and focus on the hospital’s most urgent needs, which do vary from month to month. Because we spend a lot of time in and around the hospital working on other projects as well, we are able to assess these needs on a monthly basis and adjust our medication donations accordingly.

Dave left us by saying, “This is complimenting [what we already received from others] but we are moving a great mile [with this delivery]. For example, we haven’t had salbutamol for three to four months and now we have it in good time. By what you have done here, you are becoming a citizen because you are understanding the season and the times and what is needed.”

Although the situation at Kabudula is not as dire as it was back during Kevin’s visit in 2010, we are still proud to be supplying Kabudula Community Hospital with Essential Medications today!