Bicycle ambulance is invaluable
Sister Cecily Bourdillon writes from Chipini Health Centre
"On my home-based care round, I visited Matsautso at his home, only to find him very ill and in much pain.
"In the local language spoken around Chipini, the word ‘Matsautso’ means ‘suffering’. It is strange that this was the name given to our patient by his parents long before his illness became apparent. Although he had contracted HIV some time earlier, we had hoped to be able to keep him fairly well for a long time to come, but he was prone to the opportunistic diseases that occur when a person’s immune system is not functioning properly.
"Clearly, Matsautso was much too ill to sit on a bicycle to be taken in to our health centre for whatever relief we could provide. Luckily, we have bicycle ambulances here at Chipini. They are invaluable at a time like this. His home was only a few miles away from us.
"His younger brother, Moses John, came to borrow the ambulance and bring him in. At the clinic we were able to treat a very painful ulcer that was really bothering him. We renewed his supply of antiretroviral treatment that we hoped would help him regain his strength.
"When it was time to send him home, Moses John came again and the ambulance was made ready. Matsautso was made comfortable with the help of his brother and Frank Kwenda, one of our counsellors. A leaf of aloe vera was provided to give ongoing relief to the ulcer.
"We wished them well as they set off for home. Matsautso was grateful for the concern and the support. I was moved to see him try to raise his hand and wave goodbye as they took the path out of our compound into the countryside en route home.
"We did not see him again. Sadly, he had a set-back. A few days later, news reached us that Matsautso lost his battle with AIDS. This young man was laid to rest among his ancestors, his suffering now over. The killer disease that we have been battling for more than a quarter of a century had claimed another victim."