On Monday, I did a site visit to the Jirapa District Hospital, also located a few hours from Wa. Although I had met Dr. Wodah, the Medical Director, several times before, he had recently transferred to the hospital in Jirapa and I had not yet had the opportunity to tour the facilities and meet other staff members.
Because health vehicles were occupied with a recent cholera outbreak (ok, I guess cholera is slightly more important than my personal comfort) I grabbed a ride into town (by waiting at the entrance to my hotel and waving down the first government pickup truck that passed) and took a tro-tro to Jirapa. I enjoyed touring the facilities and reviewing the request list of supplies and equipment that the Medical Director had previously prepared—we plan to send a container to Jirapa in the next few months.
However, the most interesting part of the day was accompanying the doctor to a briefing on the cholera outbreak that he gave to local health workers. There have been more than 500 cholera cases recently reported, and the day before I arrived in Jirapa, three cases had been admitted to the hospital there.
From a public health perspective, the meeting was fascinating. The health workers had a variety of levels of training and knowledge about cholera and a big focus of the meeting was helping them understand when to refer patients to the hospital. The doctor also shared awareness messages that should be spread to the communities (proper disposal of feces, making sure food is hot, boiling drinking water, hand washing, etc) and led a discussion about ways to educate illiterate mothers on how to mix oral rehydration salts (cholera mortality is linked to dehydration) correctly. Dr. Wodah led the meeting with humor, an openness to dialogue, and an acute understanding of the specific challenges faced in his district—I cannot imagine anyone (top Infectious Disease experts included) who could have done a better job!