December 16, 2010
Sudan 2010 © MSF
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to an outbreak of the neglected disease kala azar in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in southern Sudan. This year, teams are seeing eight times the number of cases of the disease as they saw last year. Kala azar is fatal if left untreated. Here, a mother tells the story of getting treatment for her children:
My name is Thinjin Wal and I have four children. Three of my boys are here at the Malakal Hospital and have all been receiving treatment for kala azar.
My youngest boy, Deng, is two years old. He became very sick in September with a very high fever that lasted many weeks. He was vomiting, had diarrhea, and became very thin. I brought him to our closest health clinic in Baliet from my village, Abong. There they told me he had malaria, so he was given medicine for malaria, but it did not help him. Then they treated him for typhoid. That failed too.
Because the health clinic did not know what was wrong with Deng, we were transferred to Malakal Hospital from Baliet 45 days ago. In Baliet, they have no test for kala azar*. We brought him to Malakal, where we found MSF had opened a kala azar treatment center in the hospital. Finally the MSF doctor told us he had kala azar and they began his treatment.
The kala azar treatment is very hard. While on kala azar medicines, Deng became very sick with jaundice. He had to receive a blood transfusion from his uncle, which did help him.
But then Deng got pneumonia. He was so sick that we thought he wouldn’t live. The MSF doctor worked very hard to save him and eventually he became better. Now he is cured of both kala azar and pneumonia and has been discharged today. Last month we would never have believed he would be standing healthy on his feet today!
While we were in Malakal for Deng’s treatment, two of my other boys, Makong, 7, and Garang, 5, also became sick. Makong had a very high fever every evening, a dry cough, and no appetite for food. Garang began vomiting, had diarrhea, and also had a cough and no appetite. They both lost a lot of weight.
They were tested for kala azar at the MSF treatment center in Malakal and they both were found to be positive for kala azar, too. Now they are receiving treatment. Garang cries and cries when he receives his injections because they pain him. Each day, we have to beg the children to accept the injections. They try to refuse saying, “No, it hurts, I don’t want it.” So I have to take them in each day and make sure they both get their injections and hold them when they cry. The condition is bad, but we will suffer what we have to so that the children get better.
My husband came to Malakal last week saying we need to come home to our village because the wheat crop is ready and the field needs protecting from the insects that eat our wheat. He has stayed this past week with me in Malakal helping with the children. Tomorrow is Makong’s last day of injections and after that, my husband will take Makong home to our village to help with the wheat crop. I will stay here with Garang while he finishes his treatment and keep Deng with me too because he is young.
We are facing many difficulties, but we are very thankful that our children will all be healthy soon and we can be together again in our village.
*The emergency kala azar intervention began in Malakal Hospital and then MSF outreach teams began interventions in outlying areas. MSF outreach teams set up a kala azar treatment center in Baliet three weeks ago.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)