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Providing medicines in Senegal

  • December 14, 2006
 Abdullahi Ndiaye. PHOTO: Chet Gordon

Abdullahi Ndiaye is a 90-year-old father of 13 who lives in Senegal.  In a country where the average life expectancy for a man is 50 years, Abdullahi has already outlived most of his peers.  In Senegal, where there is only one doctor for every 2,000 people, not much attention is given to health care for the elderly.

So when Abdullahi became ill recently, his family didn’t know what to do.  For more than a week, they watched him suffer with fever and then grow progressively weaker until he was unable to leave his bed.  With no doctor in their village, and the nearest medical facility more than 40 miles away, Abdullahi’s situation grew increasingly desperate.  Abdullahi’s daughter made the decision to seek medical attention for her father in Kaolack, which meant an hour-long, expensive taxi ride from their village for this poor family.

Fortunately for Abdullahi, he was taken to the Clinic Shifa Al Asqam in Kaolack, where the expert medical team knew just what to do.  This facility, supported by AmeriCares, provides primary care and specialized medical services to all those in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Medicines, like the analgesics and antibiotics used to treat Abdullahi, are dispensed to patients for free.

“Our patients don’t pay for their medicines,” says Nurse Coumba Diallo, who was caring for Abdullahi during his illness.  “We give them antibiotics, analgesics and vitamins, whatever they need, without cost.”  She explained that because the family is not really equipped to care for Abullahi in his weakened state, that the clinic would keep him for two weeks, allowing him to rebuild his strength and then return home.

 Lisa Frantzen of AmeriCares in Senegal
 AmeriCares caseworker Lisa Frantzen
with Abdullahi Ndiaye.
PHOTO: Chet Gordon

AmeriCares has been delivering medicines to the Clinic Shifa Al Asqam in Kaolack since the clinic opened nearly 10 years ago.  This clinic serves a population of more than 100,000 people and treats an average of 1,000 patients each month; AmeriCares ships essential medicines and medical supplies on a year-round basis to help support their needs.  The clinic is an initiative of the African American Islamic Institute, AmeriCares local partner in Senegal since 1997.  Through the African American Islamic Institute, AmeriCares’ donations are distributed not only to the clinic, but to a network of public health centers in Senegal that have limited access to medicines.  Through this national network, AmeriCares’ aid reaches upwards of 250,000 beneficiaries.

For Abdullahi, these basic medicines – easily available here in the U.S. but often lacking in Senegal – have made all the difference.

“He will get well and go home,” said Nurse Diallo of her patient.  “Without these medicines, his family would have watched him die.”