The morning, we visit the General Hospital. Having seen 4 or 5 in Congo so far, I have to say that it’s the most impressive. It offers the following services: internal medicine, basic care and treatment, family planning, a maternity with an echogram, radiology, surgery (a woman was even recovering from a mastectomy), a nutritional center for malnourished children, a garden where families of long-term patients could work to make a little bit of money to feed their family members and where the resulting crops where used for the nutritional center, a blood bank (requires electricity for the fridge and willing volunteers) etc…
It is run by a bunch of really energetic missionary sisters who piece together all the money that they can get. Of course, the hospital is not without problems: it needs a serious paint job, it could do with better patient beds and needs mattresses, and there is no running water. Each patient for surgery is required to bring her/her own pail of water.
That lunch, we eat the customary rice, fufu and manioc leaves with antelope meat. I have two helping of the meat that is subtle and brittle. Sooo good. We come to talk about how isolated the health zones of Kole are: two bridges are out requiring a pirogue ride to the other side (imagine motorcycles in swaying pirogues), roads are so shoddy that jeeps cannot pass there. Freight boats are highly unreliable, they take three months to navigate a short stretch of the river due to weak motors and overcharging. Boats even take entire families on them. Since a boat is often way behind schedule (it takes 3 months to get there as opposed to the optimistic “oh it’ll only take 3 weeks”), many family members die on the way from sickness or starvation.