Maputo Central Hospital

By Danielle Lee

Each day I wake up at 5am in order to get ready to leave at 6am. I carpool with my host family mother, Ines, and I learned that many families here do not even own cars. Therefore, they use public transportation called chapas(small vans) to get from destination to destination. Chapas can only cost around 18 meticals each way (equivalent to around 6 cents USD), but can cram up to 20 or more people in a small van. It is necessary to leave at 6am because there is only one road from Matola to Maputo, some 15 km from the city but takes up to two hours with traffic. The few roads do not even come close to providing enough room for the amount of cars in Maputo and the surrounding cities.

Catching a Chapa!
Central Hospital of Maputo is the largest public hospital in Mozambique. Julietta, Ines’ sister-in-law, works as a nurse in the pediatric ward of the Central Hospital. I was able to tour the hospital to get a glimpse of what goes on in this hospital. I found it to be vastly different than American hospitals. The buildings are run-down, and the rooms lack more sophisticated medical equipment. However, the hospital is organized and the medical staff is both knowledgeable and passionate about their work. The first few days, I observed several patients being treated for various ailments: from malaria to severe burns to HIV/AIDS. Malaria is a serious problem in Mozambique because many people do not have mosquito nets to protect them nor can they afford to pay for malaria pills to prevent it. A young girl came to Central Hospital with a high fever and was not able to eat for a few days. After more tests, they diagnosed her with malaria and treated her immediately. Malaria is deadly, and I was so surprised to see such a patient because you rarely find malaria cases in the United States.
Walking through the pediatric ward of Maputo Central Hospital
In addition, to understand more about HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, I shadowed a doctor in the HIV/AIDS clinic at the Central Hospital. I was shocked to see the waiting room completely filled with people, and each patient has their own story to tell. I worked with the doctor in the clinic, and after each patient, she would explain what happened. She emphasized the importance of education. There are many cases where men believe having sex with a virgin will rid themselves of the disease. Most commonly, people simply do not want to use a condom. This, along with many other complex issues, makes HIV/AIDS so prevalent in Mozambique and around the world. I have never understood nor witnessed the complexity of HIV/AIDS until now.
Me with Julietta, head nurse of Pediatric ICU