Cancer and chemotherapy both suppress the immune system of a child with cancer, making them highly susceptible to infection, so the dirty ward is a huge cause of mortality at BSMMU. I started to wonder, ethically can we even give chemotherapy if we can't keep the children in a clean enough environment to make sure they survive the side effects of our treatment?
Karen has been investigating the cleaning situation for the past few months and looking at how we tackle this huge problem. First she looked at the cleaning staff and what they were doing. The answer was, not much work and the work they are doing was inadequate. They are paid only $30/month and are expected to work 7 days per week; I would probably try to sleep instead of work if that was my salary! The cleaning staff also don't have much equipment other than a few rags and no soap.
Today Karen organized a team of volunteers from the expat community to give the ward a spring cleaning! All the patients were moved out into the hallway and we scrubbed the place down. Then we brought them all back in. Now Karen's job is to train the parents to keep it clean. We also got some new mattresses which were sponsored by the Dhaka American Women's Association.
|Mila, one of the two cleaning staff for the entire floor (31 beds in oncology and the same number in nephrology)! She is a lovely hard worker once Karen started to show her what to do.|
|A volunteer scrubbing dirt out of the walls!|
|One of the toilets on the ward.|
|Another toilet on the ward|
|Lots of dirt to get rid of!|
|Head nurse showing the cleaners how to properly wring out a mop. They have never seen a bucket with a wringer in it before, have always just used their hands to wring out the mop.|
|New bedside tables and tray tables sponsored by local friends. This will help to keep all the stuff of the floor so that the cleaners can clean better.|
|Patient getting settled in the newly cleaned space, with new mattresses as well!|
|One of the ward cleaners, Taznaha, she was not very keen to help at first, but eventually Karen got her working!|
|The old mattresses which were a big source of infection. It also didn't help that they were never washed between patients.|