Every year, a team of doctors and nurses from the Mali Health Education and Research Team travel to Mali, Africa, to give free medical care to women in need. These doctors and nurses perform several female surgeries. Most are surgeries to help with bladder or uterine prolapse, which usually occurs as a result from long, hard labor with no medical care.
The team consists of one anesthesiologist, two obstetrician-gynecologists, one OB resident and six to seven nurses.
Machenzie Krause, a concurrent enrollment student at WSU majoring in health promotion, went this year with the team to help.
“It is emotionally exhausting,” Krause said.
Mali HEaRT has to raise money each year to cover all its expenses. It does not get any money from the Mali government. It will hold benefit dinners and have silent auctions where items they have brought back from previous trips to Mali are sold. HEaRT will also hold 5k races. This last trip, Krause sold CDs donated by a local singer to raise money to pay for her plane ticket.
A plane ticket to Mali costs between $2,000 to $2,600. The medical supplies cost upwards of $1,000.
All of the medical supplies have to be flown over by the team. Each member will pack a very small suitcase of personal belongings and food, and another large box containing scalpels, medicines, sutures, mesh, clamps and headlamps.
Krause helped in the operating room and in post-op. She would take vital signs and get anything the nurses and doctors needed.
Krause spent 10 days in Africa. She worked from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. The team will usually perform three surgeries a day, totaling about 27 for the entire trip.
“These women are tough though; they will have surgery and then walk home 10 miles just two days after being released,” Krause said.
One woman they performed a cesarean on walked home 10 miles carrying her newborn baby.
The hardest part for Krause is seeing the lack of knowledge in health care.
“The best part about the service is seeing how grateful these women are. They are so very appreciative unlike we are sometimes here in the states,” Krause said.
The women from Mali many times don’t even have a bed sheet to lie on at home so the Mali HEaRT team packs a post-op kit that includes a sheet, antibiotic and bandages for them to take home.
The team usually travels in January when the weather is the coolest. It is 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. A second team will travel at the end of January to take care of any patients that Mali HEaRT wasn’t able to.
Krause is currently a junior at Bonneville High School and is very excited to continue her studies at WSU as a fulltime student when she graduates in 2013. Krause plans on being a medical doctor. Krause said she is definitely going again and again to Africa.