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Zambia tales from James Paget nurse

PUBLISHED: 15:08 22 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:57 16 September 2010

A NURSE at the James Paget Hospital has returned from a three-month stint at a hospital in Zambia where she overcame such hurdles as power cuts and limited equipment to care for children with HIV.

A NURSE at the James Paget Hospital has returned from a three-month stint at a hospital in Zambia where she overcame such hurdles as power cuts and limited equipment to care for children with HIV.

Lisa King, 24, a staff nurse on the paediatric ward, said conditions at the Salvation Army-run Chikankata Mission Hospital could not be more different to a modern NHS hospital.

She said: “To start with, the hospital is in a very remote rural area 31km from the nearest tar road.

“While we would hardly notice a power cut at the JPH with electricity quickly switching over to the generator, the power is on and off all the time over there, sometimes meaning complete darkness in the hospital.”

Lisa, who trained at the JPH and has spent four years at the Trust, said that while deaths on the children's ward in Gorleston were rare, they were sadly daily occurrences in Zambia.

“A large proportion of children have HIV and tend to come into hospital in the late stages of Aids. A lot are suffering from malnutrition and then there is malaria and TB as well,” she said.

“Here, we are very aware of sickness, but in Zambia mothers tend to bring their children into hospital very late when they are already very sick.”

Lisa, who lives with family in Wrentham, Suffolk, said Zambian nurses were generally good but they had to cope with limited equipment - while there were X-ray and ultrasound machines there were no ventilators or IV infusion pumps.

She added that in Chikankata there was only one trained nurse per shift, caring for 35 children.

Lisa, who had to come to terms with widespread cockroaches despite constant cleaning and a diet largely of ground maize, was given three months unpaid leave for the trip arranged by the Salvation Army.

She said: “I really enjoyed my time away and I have learned a lot about the care of children with different types of tropical illness and disease, as well as providing emergency daily care, which I hope will benefit my work back here at the JPH.”

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