I saw this on the news today, back here in Englandshire, and my mind was immediately (and horrifically) taken back to a sunny morning in Khartoum.
I’d arrived late the night before on my first visit to Sudan. I was scheduled to be there for at least six months and whilst there I wanted to do a couple of things, one of them was to see the confluence of the White and Blue Niles. The office was no more than a short walk, so after saying my hello’s to all and sundry I headed down to the nearest bridge, and it must be said, its an impressive sight.
Back to the office to be told “For your work visa you need to take a blood test, the driver will take you to the clinic now.”
A short drive through the early morning Khartoum rush hour and I was deposited in front of a fairly grubby looking building. I’m fairly well travelled in the area so was aware of roughly what was waiting for me but this one was something a touch worse than usual.
I was shown through into the doctors office, a quick conversation as to my general health followed by “sit down there please?”
I sat onto the dirty plastic chair, with a mounting fear of what was about to befall me.
Although I’d showered that morning, I wasn’t happy that he didn’t appear to want to sterilise my arm. When I asked if this was possible, he looked at me, exasperated, looked around his room, saw a piece of dirty cotton wool on the side, picked it up, covered it in an unknown liquid and rubbed it on my arm.
He then turned behind him, picked up a syringe, one that clearly had already been used and had long since left its sterilised packaging. My eyes grew wide and fearful, waiting for him to laugh, tell me he was joking and get a new one from a cupboard.
As that moment didn’t arrive, I stood up as he attempted to tie a tourniquet on my arm.
“Either a clean needle Doctor, or I’m off.”
He was confused. “This one is clean, I’ve only used it three times, it’s still sharp, it wont hurt.”
That was enough for me. I was out the door and back in my car before he had time to move the remaining two steps towards me. His final words still ring in my ears, “I don’t need the visa, you do. You’ll be back.”
Back in the office I explained what had happened. I was sent to a different clinic the following morning, with my own clean piece of cotton wool, antiseptic and needle.
I, for one, am fully behind the drive to get these one time use syringes in place the world over, as soon as possible.