I spent these first three days in Shirati shadowing Dr. Esther Kawira at two of the local clinics, Sota and Roche clinic. Dr. Kawira is one of the two resident doctors in the district of Shirati and is the founder of these two clinics. I decided it would be a good idea to first understand what the basic healthcare structure is here for all patients before diving into challenges specific to Burkitt’s lymphoma patients. The first two days of at the clinic was a good orientation to the basic types of cases in the area. We saw quiet a few malaria cases, a typical case of schistosomiasis (a disease caused by a parasite), and some cases of urinary tract and vaginal infections.
Today though, it seems like all the cases were complex. There was one child with congenital heart and eye defects, a woman with a severe cancer causing her entire eye to protrude, and a woman coming in for shingles only learn that she had HIV. While it was a good learning experience, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sadness to how limited the clinic could help them. I don’t know how much better their outcomes could have been if they had presented in a developed country, but seeing how little we could do for them here now made all of us feel so powerless. It even made me rethink whether I should have picked a different project that impacted a larger population than Burkitt’s. However, Dr. Woodrum, one of the visiting doctors, gave me a good piece of advice. She said, “you can’t fix everyone, but you just try to do the most you can for them, and that’s enough”.