‘The symptoms started only yesterday; right now I am so weak to even eat”, that was the response a final year clinical student gave to the doctor-on-call at the GOPD.
As always, experience has shown that people in the health sector, professionals and students in the Faculty/ Department of Medicine and Surgery, having signs and symptoms of a condition, tend to disregard the symptoms and signs, generally believing that it does not matter.
“Can you walk to the ward since I have written an order for your admission into the ward”, the doctor on call asked politely, but the patient-student said “No”. Before now his vitals showed spiking temperature values, respiration was laboured, pulse rate was too rapid, though his blood pressure is within normal values.
Before moving this young clinical student to the ward, blood was collected and sent for Malaria parasite test and Widal test.
He was totally disoriented in time, very weak and could nearly keep his eyes opened.
A wheel chair had to be used to wheel him to the ward where he was started on dextrose saline infusion. He could not tolerate food, water or any other edible item, since he throws up when any food source reach his mouth. He was also severely dehydrated, at least that was the impression in his case notes. Hence the for the rapid infusion. Intravenous analgesics and antipyretic were also given, while they awaited the results of the test from the lab.
As the third infusion bag flowed in, the clinical student could now sit-up, and having requested for a meal, he ate with so much vigour and zest.
By this time, the result of the Malaria Parasite test had come through; he had a markedly raised titre of The Plasmodium parasite.
“You have Malaria”. He was shown the result. He heaved a sigh of relief, because it had not been other deadly disease. He confirmed that he had not been treated for malaria for nearly 5years.
The teaching is that prescription and administration of antimalarial should not be done until there is a positive evidence of malaria parasites in the blood sample. This is to prevent the organism developing resistance to the antimalaria drugs.
Hopefully he will be discharged soon, and he would live to do the right thing when it comes to seeking timely medical intervention for ‘a small’ infection, like malaria infection.