In September 2010 I wrote about a memorable visit to Philanjalo, a hospital in rural Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. Philanjalo means live longer. My sister and I visited a relative who was a doctor at the hospital. We were able to find out about the lifesaving work undertaken there.
Thursday, 23 September 2010
Philanjalo - live longer
The countryside is dry, dry, dry. There are rocks, dried aloes, and dry earth. There is no grass to speak of – whatthere is has been turned to stubble by the goats. No rain has fallen since April this year. The streams and rivers are collections of boulders – there is no sign of water. All my photographs have a haze –a dust haze that coats the land-scape. The sky will only clear when rain has washed the sky.
|Tugela Ferry mountains|
|Carrying water home|
My contact there, a doctor working at Philanjalo, showed us around. Philanjalo – meaning live longer - was started as a hospice for aids patients.The local people have a very high incidence of MDR TB – multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis and XDR TB, coupled with an HIV AIDs infection rate of about 50%, making it exceptionally difficult to treat the disease.With the outbreak of the TB epidemic TFCARES set up the clinic as a research station.Doctors from all over the world come to Tugela Ferry to do research into MDR TB and XDR TB.Now the emphasis at the clinic is on ARV treatment - treating the side effects of HIV Aids. I was struck by how clean and efficient everything was – and the cheerfulness of both patients and staff in spite of the enormity of the problems
faced. Philanjalo works in conjunction with the Church of Scotland Hospital and provides both clinic and
On Saturday a trip to Msinga Hill was proposed. Oh dear, I thought, not mountain climbing! Not at all - there is a road to the very top. The purpose of the road
became all too clear with the incongruous presence of a cell phone mast.
|Msinga Hill Rocks|
|Community Gardens along the Tugela River|
Violent inter- faction fighting previously wracked Tugela Ferry. However, life now seems more peaceful – perhaps fighting poverty, MDR TB and HIV Aids is enough of a challenge for the people of this village.
To give you an idea of the value of the work done by these marvellous doctors and nurses, I quote from an email I received from the doctor we visited:
“The patient that I had to treat yesterday and who I thought would die, when I saw him today, he is sitting up in
bed, eating and chatting to his relatives. Miracle”