In the flood-prone districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, where medical services are often compromised during natural disasters, a ray of hope emerged in form of the medical sample transport program implemented by R4H.
In the period between January and June 2023, R4H couriers defied the odds by ensuring the transportation of viral load and Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) samples to the Nsanje district molecular laboratory. Their unwavering dedication has had a profound impact on the local healthcare system.
During the Monitoring and Evaluation review meeting in August 2023, HIV Diagnostic Assistants (Lab Managers, and other Health Care workers shared experiences, “With R4H’s sample transport program, clients are assisted in time ensuring effective administration of treatment” said Susan Mkanda DHA from Luwe Health Center, Nsanje. Apart from the usual transportation of Viral Load and EID samples, another notable success from January- June 2023 was that clients started TB treatment early, which reduced transmission of the disease” added Steven Macheso from Nsanje District Hospital.
One of the challenges couriers encountered was the scorching hot weather that often engulfs Chikwawa and Nsanje districts. “Tyre punctures during hot seasons and muddy roads during rainy seasons are the major challenges that we face when transporting medical samples” narrated Trinity Lupapa, R4H Head Courier for Chikwawa district. Despite travelling under the relentless sun and enduring the harsh conditions, these determined couriers did not let the weather deter them from their mission. The result was a reliable and timely transportation system that ensured the timely delivery of medical samples and results.
The couriers displayed immense resilience by covering long distances to reach health facilities and the molecular laboratory. The impact of R4H efforts was felt in all corners of Chikwawa and Nsanje districts as medical samples were swiftly transmitted to the laboratory and results back to the respective health facilities. “What excites me the most about my job is the ability to transport samples and results without concerns, that’s saving lives” explained Matthias Semba, R4H Courier for Nsanje district.
With the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy, the challenging terrain of these flood-prone districts further added to the couriers’ testing journey, but their steadfastness surpassed the obstacles and sample transportation remained seamless.
In conclusion, the medical sample transport program has truly been a beacon of hope in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts. The couriers’ ability to overcome the hot weather, reach remote health facilities, and navigate challenging terrains has transformed the local healthcare system. Lives are being saved, and the resilience of these couriers serves as an inspiration to us all.