One Zambian blogger tackles an issue other Zambian bloggers don’t touch — health. Meluse Kapatamoyo has written about dementia and fibroids as well as malaria eradication and the use of beads for family planning among other health conditions.
It was Kapatamoyo’s blog post on dementia which she wrote from her own personal experience of seeing her mother suffer from it that caught my attention. She wrote:
She loved me and I knew it! But all that changed in just one morning.
I had spent the whole day with her, laughing and reminiscing about my late dad. I insisted on giving her a manicure and pedicure and although I managed to convince her to allow me paint her nails, she said dad would not have approved. It was the first and only time that my mother ever had her nails painted. As I left that evening, I felt blessed to have her.
However, that was my last beautiful memory of the two of us together. The next morning, my sister and I woke up to a call that mum was acting strange and had been taken to hospital. When I got there, I found her sleeping but as soon as she opened her eyes, I immediately knew that something was seriously wrong.
There was no glow in her eyes and she did not look at me as she always did. In fact, she looked at me like some stranger, someone she had never seen before.
On fibroids, Kapatamoyo wrote:
A visitor to my blog recently requested that I do some research on fibroids. Here is an interview I had with Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu, a gynaecology consultant at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.
Fibroids, also called Leomyoma, are new overgrowths of the fibrous muscles of the uterus. Although they are essentially one and the same type of tumour, they are given different names according to the part of the uterus they occupy. Intramural fibroids are located in between the uterine muscle while the ones that push into the uterine cavity are called sub-mucous and those on the surface of the uterus are known as Sub-Serosa fibroids. The sub-serosa fibrods can even be in a suspended position from the uterus surface like fruits hanging from a branch, these are referred to as Pedunculated fibroids. All these are seen in equal measure at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) but they present with different severity of problems (symptoms).
On the use of beads for family planning, she wrote:
CycleBeads, a colour –coded string of beads, are fast becoming a popular family planning method as the battle to ensure that women worldwide (especially those living in developing countries) have access to family planning methods besides injectables and pills.
The beads represent days of a woman’s cycle and help her use a natural family planning method called the Standard Days method, which is based on reproductive physiology. A woman’s “fertile window” (the days in the menstrual cycle when she can get pregnant) begins approximately five days prior to ovulation and lasts up to 24 hours after ovulation.
On malaria eradication, Kapatamoyo reported:
Zambia is among African countries that have entered into a partnership with the United States of America to combat malaria incidence in women and children, a new report has announced.
A comment on the malaria blog by Stephen Kapambwe reads:
I think this business of depending on cooperating partners to deal with our problems, in this case the disease burden, is not very helpful. I say this because I travelled to Nakambala Sugar estates one day where I discovered that malaria prevalence in the Nakambala community has been brought down to less than one per cent. Zambia Sugar Corporate Affairs Manager Lovemore Sievu was on hand to explain that they the local community on the estates has recorded zero malaria cases in a long time as a result of frequent spraying, distribution of mosquito nets and information campaigns on how to deal with malaria.
I also discovered that that effort does not in any way involve the council in Mazabuka, or any Government department. What does that mean, you might ask? It means that our leaders rarely get interested in using local means and methods to deal with problems no matter how effective they can be, because the leaders do not gain any money.
So I appreciate what the US initiative. But we will do ourselves service if could galvanize local effort in and resources in dealing with local problems which have proved successful in Mazabuka.
In an e-mail response on why she blogs about health issues, she said:
My blog www.pokeyourmind.blogspot.com as the name suggests seeks to highlight and stimulate debate on issues exclusively relating to health. My intention is to give Zambian people a platform where they can not only obtain information, but also share and discuss openly matters relating to health, including those which may be considered embarrassing to some.
In the short time that I have seriously devoted myself to the blog, I have come to realise that while there is a lot of information to do with health on the internet, people still prefer personal ‘contact.’ And because there is a lot of stigma surrounding many diseases, people are only able to share information if they know that there is someone out there who has been through it or is going through the same thing. Others want the knowledge but feel ashamed to ask.