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Nurse, physician, and pharmacist

Posted 13.09.2012 by Marie-Laure Noray-Dardenne - View comments

Extract from the book « Le Livre des Imraguen, Pêcheurs du Banc d’Arguin en Mauritanie » by Marie-Laure de Noray-Dardenne, Editions Buchet et Chastel.

Abou Bâ Malal guards day and night over the health of Imraguens. And if he could, he would singlehandedly take care of all them all. But being only human, he is challenged to treat a wound in Mamghar and pneumonia in Agadir in the same day, all while suffering from sunstroke in mid badia. Abou has little competition in the Banc d'Arguin. Originating from the town of Mamghar, which encompasses nine of the Park’s villages, he is indeed its only certified health worker. A few years ago, the NGO, Pharmacists Without Borders, funded a health care course with the objective of training one or two people per village in health care and first aid.

Abu was also one of the trainers. But due to a lack of money and adequate compensation, volunteer villagers have laid aside their noble mission, or left the Park and its villages, to complete their education in other lands. Community health workers remain completely dependent on the village community, receiving nothing from the state. A matter of principle, but a difficult choice for health care workers whose initial motivation quickly disappears in the face of lack of recognition or salary.

Likewise, villagers can hardly believe in the new found healing powers of their once were fishing colleagues. All this is unfortunate, and increases the work of Abou. But far from being discouraged, he remains innovative. His latest idea: a mobile badia health unit, a team that includes a park agent for logistics. Since they have started, Abou is enthusiastic about the results: seventy-one consultations in two days, not including vaccinations! Obviously, such a rhythm cannot be maintained every day during the tour, and the health post in Mamghar is forced to close due to his absence. Other health care workers are urgently needed.

As for the maladies encountered, Abou lists the most common: pneumonia, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, fishing accidents, including frequent tears due to hooks. His health care practice also delivers babies.

Abou, the nurse, notes that cases of malnutrition are rare. Although vegetables are lacking, the fish diet of Imraguens is nutritionally rich and nearly complete. More of a problem is the lack of water, especially for very young children...