Paula had a real eye-opener experience of the South African health service last Friday. One of her friends in CNP, who also happens to be a home based care patient, has been really struggling to get information, test results etc. etc. Finally fed up with all the fobbing off that seemed to have been occurring, Paula bundled her friend, 1 of the carers and another friend into the car and drove to the local clinic for some action. After 3 hours (a miracle in itself!), we had finally found the right healthcare professional who could help; established that the patient has got TB; received the first TB counselling session and 2 days's worth of drugs and made an appointment for the AntiRetroViral clinic the following week - it turns out that our friend had been taking vitamin pills thinking that they were ARV's!!
In amongst all of this, Paula was able to introduce Anne, the home based carer to the Sister and explain about the team as well as asking all the questions she has been wanting to ask about her friend's condition. On top of this, she was able to explain all the test results, about the drug regimen etc. etc to her friend - the first time this has ever happened and accompany her to the TB counselling session. Remembering that Paula is not a family member - this was extraordinary!
She came away on the one hand rejoicing that so much ground had been gained, but appalled that it had taken such a forceful approach. Why should it take a white foreigner who isn't afraid to push for what is rightfully the patient's information, to get results? Thankfully, the level of professionalism from the Sisters was excellent, although the counselling session offered in English to an Afrikaans speaking very sick patient was dreadful! Now Paula will attend the ARV clinic next week and find out just what goes on there. We see, read and hear so much depressing news about HIV everyday in South Africa, so it will be good to see what goes on at the sharp end.
Paula saw her friend again today for the first time since Friday and she is looking and feeling miraculously improved! This is the impact the correct treatment can have, so we praise God for the breakthroughs He gives us.