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Chifuniro Howard

Malawi Bacterial meningitis Child 6-12 Full Recovery
Chifuniro Howard

Gloria Mizi Mbewe from Ndirande township in Blantyre tells us how the niece she looks after became sick in October 2014.

I have been looking after my 9 year old niece Chifuniro and her little sister for the past three years since my sister left to look for a job in the capital city of Lilongwe.

On 22 October 2014 Chifuniro complained that her head was paining her so much. I thought she had been affected by smoke that was coming into the living room where she sleeps from a neighbour’s house. But she then collapsed, so I bathed her with cold water, thinking that would make her better, but it didn’t. 

I decided to get medical help when I had finished preparing four of my other children for school as Chifuniro was still complaining of headache but was also vomiting and had diarrhoea. 

We walked to Ndirande health clinic and when we got there we were taken straight into the clinician’s room. They thought that she had malaria but the results were negative. 

The clinician gave me some Panadol and another drug which I didn’t know and said to give them to Chifuniro three times a day for three days. I gave her the drugs for a day but she hadn’t improved at all and had started convulsing which was really scary, so I took her back to the clinic.

"When we got to the hospital we were helped by a nurse who was taking vital signs from a desk near the consultation rooms and she noticed that Chifuniro was not in a good condition."

When we got back to the clinic, the clinician referred us straight to Queen Elizabeth Central Hosptial and we used a minibus to take us as there was no ambulance available. 

When we got to the hospital we were helped by a nurse who was taking vital signs from a desk near the consultation rooms and she noticed that Chifuniro was not in a good condition. She was taken into the emergency room where she was quickly put on oxygen before they started doing some tests. I explained that the clinic had done a malaria test which had come back negative, so the doctors did a lumbar puncture instead. We were sent to the serious ward and Chifuniro remained on oxygen.

The doctors said that she has meningitis and suspected TB. She was given some injections as well as some drugs to help her get better.

We have been in hospital for about a week and she seems to be improving as now she can talk and is able to walk again.

"Chifuniro’s sickness has had a big impact on the family because I haven’t been able to take care of them properly."

Chifuniro being sick has been difficult as I have had to stay with her in hospital for the past week. My husband is a primary school teacher at Young Ambassador Private School in Blantyre and I have my own business cooking and selling mandasi (doughnuts) at the local market. I also have six other children at home, aged 17, 14, 11, 9 and 4, as well as Chifuniro's little sister. The children have been taken care of by my eldest as my husband doesn’t get back from work until late.

Chifuniro’s sickness has had a big impact on the family because I haven’t been able to take care of them properly. My business has also gone downhill as I’ve not been there and I think I will lose my regular customers. 

I am hoping that Chifuniro's future will be bright though because she is responding quickly to treatment so hopefully she will recover soon and go back to school. She is a bright girl and I am confident she will do well in the future.

I had never heard of meningitis until Chifuniro got sick but now I think I would be able to spot it. 
I have told my family what to look for if someone is sick and that they need to seek medical help quickly.

Gloria Mizi Mbewe
June 2015

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