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04 August 2011

SA's medical team 'has done Somalia a great service'

Day 3, August 3 - Hawlwadag District, Mogadishu

We started the day not knowing exactly what to expect at the camps.

A queue of hundreds of men, women and children snaked along the dusty road to the makeshift camp that the Gift of the Givers had set up just outside of Hawlwadag District, near Mogadishu.

By midday the doctors from South Africa had consulted 200 patients.

Mission leader Dr Imtiaz Sooliman praised the team saying it could not further "improve the medical model".

"It is a tribute to the entire medical team who have done South Africa, Africa and Somalia a great service.

"Their efforts have been recognised by the South African government, the Somali NGOs and the Somali people. We have helped over 500 people and only one child has died in the clinic," Sooliman said.

"But the reality is that, if nobody else responds, thousands upon thousands of men, women and children will die."

Fellow physician Dr Ismail Vawda said he felt "a lot of satisfaction from contributing to the aid effort".

Walking through the makeshift hospital it was distressing to see the many desperate people lethargically moving around, many with glazed and confused expressions.

And at the end of the day photographing in a small area because of the security restrictions, the media contingent was quiet as we drove back through the chaotic and colourful streets leading to Mogadishu.