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Njera, castles, and compassion: just three of the wonderful things I experienced at Mekelle University

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

By: DAPHNE KIBANDA , 5TH YEAR STUDENT (MBChB) at MBARARA UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Day out at Emperor Yohannes’ castle with Kidus(L) myself(C) and Henry(R)
The thought of an exchange study program away from my home university and country was as excitingas it was scary. With the GEMx website and with help from Ms. Faith Nawagi, the GEMx Africa representative, the application process went smoother than I expected. Within less than a month, my colleague and I were ready to travel to Mekelle University, College of Health Sciences, in Ethiopia. Ms. Sheila and Ms. Angela Nakato from the International Relations Office were also key in our travel preparations.

At about 5 a.m. on Saturday 13th July, we landed in Addis Ababa. Our flight to Mekelle was at 7.15a.m so we had some time to lounge. This was both our first time in Ethiopia and at Bole International Airport and so locating the different terminals took some bit of time. It can’t go without mention that every single person we interacted with at the airport, both passengers and employees, was very welcoming and helpful. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed for over 3 hours due to unfavourable weather at our destination and since we had no way of communicating with our hosts yet, we missed our transport from the airport. Nevertheless, we were very well received into Mekelle by the staff, students and even the locals.

With some of the C11 class members after a management session.

We joined the C11 group on the Internal medicine rotation as soon as we arrived and made very many friends. The students always readily helped with translation during clerkships as we were not conversant with the local language. I particularly remember an incident where I went to the ward to clerk a patient and all the members of my group were not around. I walked through the ward looking for a familiar face in vain. Later, I met a student from another group and when I explained myself to her, she was more than willing to help. They made the environment very comfortable and conducive for the one month we spent with them. Every day on the ward at Ayder Comprehensive Specialised Hospital was a new learning experience. Although the prevalent conditions didn’t differ much from those in Uganda, we were able to compare National treatment guidelines for common communicable conditions in both countries. We also participated in ward rounds, bedside teachings, and management sessions and were able to share and expand our knowledge further.

Outside of class, we appreciated the diverse culture of the people in Mekelle. We learned several words and phrases in Tigrinya, the native language, and by the end of one week, “Selam” which is a word for “hello” came much more easily to me. They have a unique taste in food, and I fell in love with “Njera”.

Njera and stew
I could not go an entire day without this traditional dish and to date, Ethiopian food is one of my favourites and Ethiopian restaurants in Uganda are a go-to. We also witnessed a traditional Ethiopian wedding and I must say the African culture is rich and full of diversity. We managed to visit Emperor Yohannes’ castle in Mekelle city, which serves as a museum currently and had some of our new friends show us around the rest of the city.

Our stay in Mekelle came to an end after exactly 4 weeks and on 9th August, we had to travel back home. We said a couple of emotional and even tearful goodbyes and promised to keep in touch with our friends. It was an educative, humbling, inspirational and fun experience for me, and I look forward to more of these opportunities with GEMx. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity.

From Kampala to Rwinkwavu: Experiencing Rwanda and its Health Systems

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

By: Tinka George William, Makerere University School of Medicine to University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences 

Tinka and other cohorts at the bus park

At Nyabugogo Bus Park

On the 27th day of July, at about 7:15 pm, I left my room and headed to the Trinity bus parking lot. By 8:45 pm Marvin, Martin, Emmanuel, and Edward had come. Our other friend Reagan was not able to get to the bus by its departure time and he joined us the following day.

This began the longest bus trip I have taken to date. I went listening to George Carlin’s “When will Jesus bring the pork chops?’’ I have listened to it before, so the jokes were a little less funny since I already expected what he was going to say. At some points, I slept off, then woke up to the bus hitting a hump or something of the sort. By about 4 or 5 am the following morning, we were at the Uganda-Rwanda border of Katuna. The process of crossing over was a little fast yet, somehow, a little slow. It was so cold and my hands were freezing!

After the immigration bureaucracies, we sped off into the land of a thousand hills. For a moment we were confused about the actual time. The weather outside looked like 8 am (Ugandan time). My phone, however, was showing 7 am! We later found out that Rwanda is in a different time zone from Uganda. It was 7 am (Rwandan time).

Students at Rwinkawavu

Kigali, Rwanda was quite different from Uganda. It appeared, without a doubt, cleaner (I deliberately went on looking out for plastic bag litter but I hardly saw any). Their water channels weren’t clogged (like a good number of ours back home), we were being driven on the right side of the road (unlike the left for Uganda), there were indeed many hills, and their city looked relatively less busy than ours. The rest were the same Ugandan stuff. Same house architecture (especially in the urban areas), same people lifestyles: clothing, general activities, and the same weather. By 9 am we were in Nyabugogo parking station.

We took our first major bunch of snaps in Rwanda there. Those of us that hadn’t exchanged our Uganda shillings to Rwanda Francs also did so from there. I was surprised (and a little embarrassed) that the Rwandan currency has more weight than the Ugandan currency. Our Rwandan contact, Mr. Nepo found us shortly thereafter and took us for our very first Rwandan meal- breakfast. It was enjoyable. Mr. Nepo was a nice host. He told us of many interesting stories about Rwanda. We received a pleasant welcome.

Students on motorcycles

 

Another apparent difference between Uganda and Rwanda that I noticed as we broke our fast was that the ‘’boda-bodas’’ (motorcycle taxis) there seemed to much more strictly follow the rule of carrying only one passenger. They all had helmets for the passengers. This is unlike what takes place back home, and it is good as it reduces road accident-related trauma cases and deaths.

Next was the drive to Rwinkwavu in the Eastern province of the country. We were driven through Kigali. I must say that I had always imagined Kigali to be a small city (since it is in a small country!). Oh boy, I have always been wrong. Kigali is a relatively large city.

The drive to Rwinkwavu was rather long. We had been told it would take about two hours. I can’t say I am sure how long it took because I slept off along the way. You see, one other difference between Uganda and Rwanda was that the roads in Rwanda never seemed to have humps or potholes. It is no wonder therefore that the journey to Rwinkwavu was so smooth that we almost all slept off at some point. Not to mention that we were also tired by then.

All journeys come to an end, and so did this one. By 1 pm, we had arrived and settled into the secluded home of Partners in Health (Inshuti Mu Buzima), our hosts in Rwinkwavu. The place was a nice, quiet, and peaceful countryside settlement on one side of a hill overlooking a far way valley. It had most of the amenities to make our two weeks stay enjoyable.

 

The following two weeks: 

Students after University of Rwanda walk and talk session grouped outside building

The following day, we were joined by twenty students from the University of Rwanda. We were to study the Social and Community Medicine (SOCOMED) course with them. By the end of it all, they were to become our very tight lifelong friends.

The following two weeks saw us having lectures, presentations, community visits, a screening session, a trip around Kigali, and a mine visit. The lecturers always made the sessions fun. Our sitting arrangement in a U-shape setup with students facing each other made the lectures more of interactive sessions and less of the traditional boring classes. The different topics we had over the two week period included; an introduction to the SOCOMED program, the Rwanda Health system, the SWOT analysis technique, communication skills, the community health program in Rwanda, leadership, social determinants of health, palliative care, research, health equity, disease prevention & health promotion, traditional medicine, quality improvement and team building, etc. We got to listen from the Executive Director of PIH in Rwanda- Dr. Joel Mubiligi, the Chief Human resource officer of PIH, the Head of informatics, the head of medical education and training and many others. This ensured that we got to learn knowledge and experiences from more than the medical perspective. We got career guidance, leadership skills, and strategies and many other attributes.For presentations, we were divided into different groups. We were sometimes then given group and individual assignments to present to the class. My assignment was to present about SDG 9 using Sao Tome and Principe as a case study.

 

Students huddled around community health worker

With the Community Health Worker, Mr. Emmanueri (2nd from the left)

 

 

We had several community visits. We visited community health workers first. We were surprised at how much the Rwanda Health Care system is relying on them. I realized they play a relatively bigger role in Rwanda than in my country (Uganda). They are provided with more resources also. For example, they must fill in the Health Information Management System (HMIS) Reports, they have clinical guidelines and treat malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, cough & flu, and do health screening. They also seemed to have a relatively more advanced precision of clinical examination skills than their counterparts in my country.

students at screening sessions
  They could identify jaundice, anemia, cyanosis, edema, dehydration, the different signs of respiratory distress, etc. They also had the necessary tools like Mid-Upper arm circumference (MUAC) tapes,  thermometers, timers, drugs, etc. Another community visit we had was to a chronically ill patient. Here I learned that Rwanda, unlike my home country, has a working health insurance scheme called ‘Mutuelle de Santé,’ and people pay subscription fees according to their economic groupings (ubudehe) which ensures that the poor ones pay relatively less than the rich ones to ensure equity. During this community visit, we passed by Akagera national park. It was an amazing view.

We also appreciated that in rural Rwanda, people live together in distinct villages called umudugudu.’ This is unlike in Uganda where it is not uncommon to find people living in scattered homes away from everyone else. The umudugudus in Rwanda make it easier to get services closer to the people since they live in groups.

We had two non-communicable diseases screening sessions in Ndego. My role during the session was to measure random blood glucose levels using a glucometer.

Students in front of statue in kigali

 

Trip to Kigali. 

The first week ended earlier, on a public holiday called Umuganura (Friday).  It is a Thanksgiving Day. The day Rwandans celebrate their ever-bountiful harvest. We used the opportunity to have the following three days for ourselves in Kigali. In Kigali, we put up at the PIH house. We found Dr. Akiiki there with a good number of other people from different nationalities and career fields. We were nicely welcomed and had a good time there. By the time the three days of the long weekend were up, we had been to; the Kigali convention center, the genocide memorial center, Amahoro Stadium, Kigali airport, Kigali arena, Inema art gallery, downtown Kigali, etc.

The Rwinkwavu mines.

To appreciate different aspects of occupational health and safety, we on the second last day of our placement, went and visited the Rwinkwavu Wolfram mining site. We visited their offices where we were first told about the different health measures they have in place. We then proceeded to the mine itself and went a good number of meters down the mine tunnel. It was dark! I am kidding. There was light, but it was cold down there. Apart from appreciating the different health risks miners are exposed to, it was an exciting experience.

On the evening before the last day, PIH organized for us a farewell banquet. We had some good time with everyone and got our certificates. On the last day, the 9th day of August, we had the last presentations and sessions. We then prepared ourselves and were driven to Nyabugogo Bus Park where the whole story had started from. The bus we boarded departed at 5:45 pm and arrived in Kampala at 8 am. The story that had started with a long bus journey ended with an even longer bus journey.

 

 

 

 

Passion to Practice: Nzeeke Herbert’s Path to a Transformative Elective Exchange

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

By: Nzeeke Herbert, fourth-year medical student from Kabale University School of Medicine, Uganda

Herbert Standing Outside
My name is Nzeeke Herbert, a fourth-year medical student from Kabale University School of Medicine found in south-west Uganda bordering Rwanda. It is one of the nine Universities in Uganda that offers a degree in Medicine and surgery. I am privileged to be one of the pioneers of this medical school and one of those who had the first chance to participate in this elective program through GEMX.

 Growing up, I used to admire health workers putting on white coats. I then started getting the passion for medicine seeing how the health workers were caring for the sick and especially whenever there would be an emergency with everyone running up and down in a bid to help. Watching my father and mother die before I achieved my passion was another painful moment for me, but this didn’t stop my hopes of pursuing a medical course.

I joined a clinical school for my diploma in clinical medicine and community health in 2002 to 2005. I developed a positive attitude of doing my best whenever I handled the sick/suffering without segregation. I had no hopes of joining the university for the degree because I was supposed to look after my siblings since I was the first-born child. However still with my passion for medicine, I didn’t lose hope and through Prayer God made a way in 2016 when I was finally admitted to Kabale University to pursue this noble course.

Pioneering

The GEMx program gave me another rare opportunity to have an experience in Kenya where I didn’t have any hopes of traveling during my undergraduate studies. It started with a simple announcement at the University notice board calling for students to apply and participate in the exchange program with a deadline. I thought it was not serious and kept busying myself until the deadline date when I finally submitted my application. To my surprise three of us, we were called to the office of the dean of the school of medicine where we were told that we were selected by the faculty among ten applications to participate in the GEMx program.

It was such a joy. I wondered how best I could handle this as to be one of the first people at my medical school and a pioneer of the program. However, I had to be with hope and wanted to experience how other countries carry out their training of medical students in their medical schools.

Safari to Kenya

We traveled by road from Kabale, Uganda to Nairobi Kenya via Busia border, a journey that took me twenty-one hours. This was the first time I had ever traveled such a long distance. But it was rather an adventurous journey as I viewed the beautiful scenery of Africa; the landscape, parks, different animals, and valleys provided such a good tourist view.

Acclimatizing to Kenya

I found that Kenyans were welcoming and friendly. Swahili was the main language of communication and initially, it was challenging but some locals tried English, which made me learn more Swahili so I would be able to communicate. Their main meal was “Ugali” (posho in the simplest terms) with greens (sukuma wiki). It was not easy to cope up with the diet as I was used to Matooke and Irish potatoes. I had to adjust to fit within the local dishes.

The Elective Begins!

At Kenyatta University the coordinator GEMx welcomed us and introduced us to the different head of departments including the dean School of Medicine. This made me feel at home. A time table was drawn that helped me go through the expected objectives smoothly. The teaching hospital-Kiambu level 5 Hospital in Kiambu county was located approximately 30Km away from the university. This called for waking up early morning to catch the bus that would transport students to and from the hospital daily. The University had a six-year degree program for medicine and surgery compared to our Ugandan program of five years.

Forensic Medicine   

In forensic medicine, I was able to attend a few lectures and five autopsies with lots of learning and getting expertise from the experienced government pathologists. The pathologists were such good people who made me learn when, why, and how to do an autopsy. I had the chance to visit the biggest government chemists’ laboratory where samples are taken for analysis concerning forensics and the law. This improved my knowledge in forensic medicine and skills in carrying out autopsies which will help me become a good medical officer in the future.

Mental Health

In mental health at Mathari Hospital, I gained skills in clerking mental cases and attended rehabilitation sessions in a private rehabilitation center for substance abuse clients at Blessed Talbot. This gave me great experience in understanding the relationship between drug addiction and mental health and the team approach in handling such clients.

Surgery

The experience in surgery rotation was such an amazing one especially the radiological investigations in managing surgical cases for example; MRI, MRCP, CT scan in addition to other routine investigations were readily available within reach and patients would go for them when requested. The surgeons were such good people as they made me learn a lot with their good advice and teaching.

This was such an interesting experience as it contributed to my knowledge that will help me go through medical school smoothly and use it in the future during my practice so I can become a good professional medical worker with the relevant skills. On the social aspect, I made friends, interacted with many students and visited many malls around Nairobi and markets. It was very interesting staying in Nairobi. Would wish given another opportunity to go back. Traveled back Kabale-Uganda by road and had a safe journey. All my travels and welfare were fully facilitated by GEMx. LONG LIVE GEMx LONG LIVE KABALE UNIVERSITY.

 

Group Reflections on a GEMx Family Medicine Exchange from University of Zimbabwe to University of Kwazulu-Natal

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Nyasha Manyeruke, Leslie Mashayahanya, and Talent Munjombi, medical students at University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences who completed a elective exchange at University of Kwazulu-Natal School of Nursing and Public Health (South Africa) through the GEMx-AFREHealth Regional Exchange Partnership.

 

Students selfie in Durban

INTRODUCTION

When we signed up for the GEMx Elective experience in South Africa, we hoped to experience and gain better understanding of the clinical setup in a neighbouring African country and improve our overall clinical skills in preparation for our final year of medical school. We happily report, that the experience exceeded our expectation and broadened our knowledge overally.
Under the supervised guidance of Proffessor Mergan Naidoo, we had an opportunity to rotate in different wards at the hospital, that is- High Care Unit, Out Patients Department, HIV clinic and Accident And Emergency Department. We had multiple opportunities throughout our elective to interact with Family Medicine constultants and Registrars for “one on one” tutorials as well as group tutorials. We also interacted with other members of the clinical team including interns, counsellors and nurses, who taught us and encouraged us to perform certain procedures, such as, drawing blood for investigations, inserting urinary catheters, suturing and so forth. Outside clinical activities at the hospital, we also explored Durban –visiting the beach, shopping malls, indulging in local delicacies, and interacting with fellow Zimbabweans living in South Africa, as well as the other locals we encountered in our day to day activities. We gained a greater appreciation of the multicultural and diverse society that makes up South Africa, Durban in particular, and how this correlates to patient management in the hospital setup.
In this report, we have summarized our elective experience into experiential sections and attached pictures accordingly.

Hospital Clinical Experience
1. Out-Patients Department
We each spent a week attached to the outpatients department, participating in local procedures and guidelines. In our logbooks we had clear learning objectives and subjective measures to assess our progress throughout our elective. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and below in Figure 1.1, the picture illustrates Leslie clerking patients seated on the bench waiting to be served at the Out-patients Department.

MD student looking at papers

2. High Care Unit
We each spent a week attached to the high care unit. We mainly learnt ward management of patients and ward conduct as well as protocol. Besides knowledge learnt on commn ailments in our setting, such as, HIV, TB and Myorcadial infarctions, from the various ward rounds and tutorials,we also assisted the interns in performing their daily ward duties, such as, taking blood, performing lumbar punctures, inserting chest drains and so on, as well as interpreting lab results for investigations. Figure 1.2 below illustrates Talent taking blood from a newly admitted patient, with the assistance of one the nurses.

Students taking care of patient

3.HIV clinic
We each were attached to the HIV clinic for one week, and we mainly participated in patient adherence counselling, reviews, as well as initiation of patients on Antiretroviral medication. We learnt about the importance of the multi disciplinary team and we often assisted the nurses at nearby clinic( gateway clinic) in using the referral system tool effectively in ensuring patients receive the best care. Figure 1.3, is a picture showing Nyasha, standing at the entrance for Gateway clinic.
Student in front of hospital sign

4.Accident and Emergency
We each spent one week at this department. This was a very busy department, it was very interesting learning about the triage system at this hospital and the acute management of patients. We learnt about the importance of time and sharing tasks amongst members of the clinical team in order to manage patients adequately. In figure 1.4, the picture below illustrates Leslie, preparing bloods to be sent to the laboratory for investigation.

5. Other Hospital Related Activities

Talent and Leslie reviewing clinical magazines for updates on recent research findings, new additions to clinical guidelines and for Continuing Medical learning(CME) in the doctor’s tea lounge during some of our lunch breaks.

Students Reviewing Journals

Talent(female) and Leslie, standing in front of college of health sciences building for the University of Kwazulu-Natal. We visited the medical school a few times during our stay and we marveled at the architecture

Talent(female) and Leslie, standing infront of college of health sciences building for the University of Kwazulu-Natal. We visited the medical school a few times during our stay and we marvelled at the architecture

A selfie taken after our GEMx end of elective exercise and discussion with us and Professor Ross( one of the consultants at the hospital. We enjoyed our interactions with him during ward rounds and our various tutorial sessions.

A selfie taken after our GEMx end of elective exercise and discussion with us and Proffessor Ross( one of the consultants at the hospital. We enjoyed our interactions with him during ward rounds and our various tutorial sessions.

As we come to the conclusion of our elective experience, we would like to thank all the people who made this elective experience possible, we thank you for impacting our careers in our fruitful and adventure filled manner. We hope you continue your great work.

THANK YOU
Siyabonga

Report on GEMx Postgraduate Ophthalmology Elective in Mombasa, Kenya

Filed under: GEMx Post-Graduate Exchanges GEMx Regional Exchanges

Post by W’mosi Brenda Achieng, an Ophthalmology resident at University of Nairobi Faculty of Medicine (Kenya) who completed a elective exchange at Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre through the GEMx-COESCA Regional Exchange Partnership 

 Ophthalmology Elective Experience

Residents standing in front of hospital

Me with colleagues, I am the on the extreme left. Dr. Basha in the middle, was winding up his elective term and I had just begun.

In my second year as an ophthalmology resident I had the opportunity to do my first elective term. I chose to do it at Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre and applied through GEMx.

Traveling:

I flew to Mombasa early in the morning. The airplane ride was short and comfortable. I had booked the ticket two weeks in advance so I bought the ticket at a good rate. I would advice anyone who wants to fly there to buy the tickets online way in advance as they are a lot cheaper as compared to purchasing them a few days to the journey. I took an uber from the airport to the hospital.

 Weather:

The weather there is generally hot and humid. It is advisable to carry lots of light clothes and some sunscreen. There were occasional rainy periods during my stay but the rainfall was quite light.

Arrival and stay:

I arrived and went to report at the hospital. I met the Medical Director who is also a Cornea specialist.

He gave me a quick orientation and introduced me to all the staff. He gave me an overview of the values and mission of the hospital and communicated what was expected of me during my elective period.

I was informed on work attire and would put on my white coat on top of my clothes or wear scrubs. I would advise on putting on scrubs to work as they were comfortable and easy to work in the hot weather.

Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. I had no doubt that I would feel at home away from home. He gave me the afternoon off to go and settle myself at my accommodation as I was to stay at a nearby flat outside the hospital for the first 3 weeks.

After 3 weeks I moved into the hospital accommodation. It was a quite a big room, with a bed, fan, fast Wi-Fi and a set of sofas. It was self-contained with a shower and toilet. The kitchen was however adjacent to it with its own key. The kitchen was clean and had a table top cooker and gas. Utensils were also provided in the kitchen.

Work experience:

Photo of the hospital

The hospital

My first day was in the general clinic which runs every day. The clinic is usually very busy. There was a visiting consultant from Japan who is an anterior segment specialist. Together with him and the medical director, we were able to see about 100 patients on day 1. Some of the other clinic staff were on an outreach in another county doing free cataract surgeries in the community.

I was able to attend the other clinics which run concurrently with the other clinics on specific days. I attended some of the cornea clinics which would run on Tuesdays. I also attended some of the Wednesday clinics which were paediatric ophthalmology clinics. Main theatre days are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I was able to review challenging and interesting cases with the medical director who was always available for consultation. I also managed to review interesting paediatric ophthalmology cases with the paediatric ophthalmologist. I also learnt a lot from the other cadres at the hospital. Apart from the ophthalmologists, there are also two ophthalmic clinical officers two ophthalmic nurses, and other cadres. Everyone was willing to teach and also learn something from the other.

At Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre, there are visiting ophthalmologists from time to time. They are from various countries and different sub specialties. Apart from getting to work with the Anterior segment consultant from Japan for a week, I also got to meet and work with a visiting Cornea specialist from India. Together with the medical director and the visiting cornea specialist, I was able to review patients with them and learn a lot over the few days.

I also managed to learn a lot surgically. I did my first complete cataract surgery and managed to do 13 cataract surgeries. I was also able to learn and do other procedures like 3 excisions of pterygiums and conjunctival masses. I learnt how to excise chalazions and also how to do punctum repair when doing a lid laceration repair, and also learnt how to do YAG-capsulotomy. There are also Continuous Medical Education seminars every last Friday of the month. I was able to attend 3 seminars during my stay at the hospital which were very informative.

Day to day living:

I would cook most of my meals in the kitchen. However, at lunchtime, I sometimes would buy meals at an affordable price at the hospital canteen. The meals sold there are balanced and healthy with fresh ingredients. Price range was about ksh50-100 for a full meal. For fresh vegetables, there is a market not too far away in town where one can access fresh raw ingredients. The hospital and the central business district are very close to each other. About 5-10 minutes away from each other. I had access to the supermarkets, ATMs and banks as they were just a few minutes away. My main means of getting around were ‘Tuk-tuks’ and ‘matatus’ for nearby places as well as Uber taxis for the places that were far. Most means of transport were affordable and convenient.

For some of the cultural dishes, there are many hotels that serve the authentic coastal dishes that were affordable and a walking distance from the hospital

I did my own laundry and there is a good outdoor hanging line.

Security within the hospital was very good and it is round the clock. Both the room and kitchen had padlocks. In case of emergencies, there was an alarm within the room as well as an indoor phone which you could contact the other residences within the hospital or the main hospital block. The security officers were always courteous and willing to help in case of anything.

There are also many tourist sites that one may visit over weekends when free. For example, there are some tourist sites not too far from the hospital for example Fort Jesus. There are many beaches as well as the marine park just to mention a few.

Religion:

Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre is very tolerant of all religions despite being a Christian institution.

It serves a community which has Christians, Muslims, Buddhists among others. All patients are treated equally and with respect regardless of religion, race and socio-economic status.

There was devotion twice a week, on Tuesday mornings and Friday mornings at 7.15 am -8 am which I attended. All staff were welcome and the sessions were always spiritually uplifting.

Overall:

My overall experience was great. The work experience was different and very interesting. I got to work with different people and cadres. The staff at Lighthouse were hardworking and professional as well as very warm. Learning was both ways and I learnt a lot from everyone. I was exposed to so many different conditions from which I learnt a lot in terms of management and surgeries. I was able to perform surgeries under supervision and my teachers were patient.

I am grateful to GEMx for granting me this great opportunity. It was invaluable in my training in ophthalmology. I would not trade that experience for anything.

Internal Medicine Elective at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Malawi)

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Post by Tebogo Bolani, a medical student at University of Witswatersrand (South Africa), who recently completed a GEMx elective at the University Of Malawi College Of Medicine (Malawi).

Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. This a Zulu proverb that I have never fully appreciated until I arrived in Malawi. My first experience of Malawi was the airport – it was certainly not what I expected. We were welcomed by a small group of local children standing behind a fence waving at us stepping off the plane. It was humbling and exciting at the same time. I completed my elective at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Malawi. We arrived on the 26 of November and stayed until 23 December 2017.

When we arrived at our temporary home at Kabula lodge, we were greeted with no electricity and no food and no means to get food. The food situation certainly improved throughout our stay, the electricity not so much. Power outages and load shedding occur regularly in Malawi. The country is reliant on hydro energy, but there has been a drought of late resulting in electricity shortages. All in all, the next month looked like it was going to be a challenge. We made it work though, we started cooking outside on a coal stove, locally called a Mbalula. Funnily enough the president came to town and for the entire duration of his stay we had continuous power.

villagers sitting around a tent
Monday morning, we woke up bright and early to go to the hospital. What struck me first was the bright colours from the chitenje that the locals wear. Malawians take pride in their culture. The chitenjes are used as clothing, bedding, to carry babies and many other uses that I have never encountered. I spent a significant amount of my time collecting different patterns and colours as gifts and to wear myself.

We were allocated to the internal medicine department, at our request. When I first walked into the ward I was shocked. It was nothing like I imagined. I expected a similar setting to South Africa, instead I found poverty and overcrowding but also the spirit of Ubuntu – which translates as “a person is a person through other people”. Malawians have a true sense of community. We joined the ward round and soon found out that resources are severely limited and that receiving something as basic as an ECG can be near impossible for the low-income patient. They do not have a Blood Gas machine or CT scanner. An MRI machine is available, provided the proper procedures are followed.

There are no barriers between patients resulting in no privacy, there are inadequate beds resulting in patients sleeping on mattresses on the floor and some even in the corridors.
One of the things that impressed me most about QECH is their ability to improvise. No chest drain is available, so they use a catheter, no hand sanitizer is available so they poke a hole in a bottle of spirit and use it as disinfectant. Also, they have what they call guardians. I am used to a system whereby nurses bear the brunt of the responsibility. In Malawi patients are always accompanied by their guardians. Guardians are family members that stay with the patient at all times, they do a lot of work that would ordinarily be considered the nurses’ job. Guardians empty catheters, give patients bed pans, feed patients and provide some of the medical history. They have no medical training and sometimes, they are a hazard (force feeding a patient with a reduced GCS), but I still consider them invaluable. Guardians sleep on the floor next to their relative without a blanket or pillow or mattress. I honestly believe they keep the hospital running. They exemplify the spirit of Ubuntu.

selfie of four african medical students
I have this memory in my head. It is the image of an elderly gentleman who was very ill. He was visibly wasted, weak and confused. His son was his guardian. Every day I would watch his son position himself behind his father on the bed and allow the father’s upper body to rest on his chest as he fed him. It was heart-breaking to watch. Partly because the father was very sick and had a poor prognosis, but also because his last moments where spent in a hot hospital, with flies everywhere that he did not even have the energy to swat off himself. It just seemed like a very unpleasant way to die, my only consolation is knowing that he was never alone, and his son was by his side.

Patients in Malawi seem to have a very high tolerance for pain. I was shocked when I assisted in performing a lumber puncture and no local anaesthetic was given. This is the norm here. Of all the patients that received a lumber puncture, not one screamed in pain. At home in South Africa local anaesthetic is used, and the majority of patients scream at the top of their lungs, so much so that the nurses come and check what is wrong. One of the senior doctors was asked why patients here never complain. He claimed that in the patient’s eyes, doctors can do no wrong and they are too polite to complain. The only response patients seem to have is to reach towards the hand causing the pain. But they never make a sound.

On a more positive note, the academic teaching in the internal medicine department is excellent. They have daily case presentations prepared by the students and everything from history, management and microbiology is thoroughly discussed. I learnt most during these early morning sessions. My Chest X-ray interpretation skills have improved. I loved that it is a platform for active learning. The consultants would sit in a line in the front row and the students and registrars behind them. After the presentation the consultants would ask questions about the case. It did not come across as an interrogation at all. It was academic discussion amongst academics.

The ward rounds where similar. Students are part of the work force. They clerk all the patients with the assistance of the intern and registrar and on Mondays and Thursdays present their patients on the consultant ward round. They ordered their own investigations and drugs as well. They are very independent when managing patients. Sometimes they would even come in on Sunday to prepare for Monday’s consultant ward round.

Four African Medical Students
The ward round was another platform for teaching. I am accustomed to passive ward rounds where students do not really participate. But QECH certainly does not conform. The ward round is run by the students with help from the junior doctor. The students, which soon included us, would present most patients and then have a discussion with the consultant. It is probably what I enjoyed doing most. It was the perfect combination of theory, clinical skills and fun. Granted it was exceedingly stressful, because of the pressure and fear of doing something wrong, but it always worked out in the end.Once we got the hang of how things worked we started seeing our own patients. I found it very satisfying to be managing my own patients from admission to discharge. I was certainly grateful for the help that the students and registrar provided. It was probably the first time I have ever felt like I am really becoming a doctor. It was stressful at the best of times and writing a discharge summary in the health passport is time consuming, but the joy of doing something right outweighs it all.

Looking back now, my experience at the hospital is not what I expected at all. We were necessary labour and I appreciated that. We became part of the team. We made friends with the students so much so that even though they have left, we still chat with them on WhatsApp group. My independence has definitely been put to the test. Being away from the comforts of home was difficult but bearable. I got used to the new normal. I think I gained more completing my elective internationally than I could have at home. I developed my ability to communicate with people that don’t speak the same language and my ability to adapt to a new community and culture. I also succeeded at performing procedures that I have repeatedly failed at, at home (lumber punctures). Additionally, I have proved to myself that I can live in another country and still be happy.

Daily Reflections from a Nursing Student’s Community Health Elective Exchange in Uganda

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Post by Akingbohungbe Oluwatosin Sonia, a nursing student at University Of Ibadan. Department Of Nursing, College Of Medicine, in Nigeria, who completed a elective exchange in Community Health through Makerere University, College Of Health Sciences, Department Of Nursing, in Kampala, Uganda.

 July 2019

All thanks to God for this opportunity, I was privileged to be one of the students selected to participate in the exchange program in Makerere University, Kampala Uganda by the Global Education in Medicine Exchange (GEMx). The exchange school was the Department of Nursing, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Uganda.  The program started on the 17th of June 2019 and I joined them on the 22nd of June 2019 due to logistics. We took off from Lagos Murtala Muhammed International airport on the 21st of June 2019 by 12:40 P.M, We had a stopover in Nairobijomo Kenyatta International Airport By 11P.M and board another airplane to ENTEBBE by 12:55 A.M on the 22nd of June 2019. The plane landed in ENTEBBE by 02:10 A.M and we were picked up by Mr. Martin the driver to the department from where we were taking to the prepared accommodation where we slept over for the night. The following day we were taking to Ms. Lydia Kabiri at the department of nursing around 11a.m for proper welcoming, recognition and further directives on how the program will run. Afterward we left for Mpigi to join the rest of the students in the Mpigi Health Center IV where we were also welcomed warmly by Katumba Lawrence and kwikiriza Grace followed by the rest of the students Gerald, Olivier, Innocent, Sonita, Janet, Francine, Shilla and Clement the leader of the group. The students were on a recess posting which includes Domiciliary midwifery and community health as subset of Public health nursing. The Health Centre had different units, the General ward, Out-Patient Department (OPD), Antiretroviral Therapy Department, Maternal child health Department and the Labour ward. Alongside the posting into the ward, we also took part in Continuous Medical Education (C.M.E) undertaken by health practitioners in the Mpigi Health Center IV, the forum is a productive and an interactive one which affords everyone both students and the health workers to brainstorm and learn new things through researches and new discovery for rendering health services to the people.

Day 1

24/06/2019

The day started with meeting with the senior nursing officer, in charge of the health centre and she welcomed us and then there was a brief orientation to the setting of the health facility, visiting the various units of the health centre. The various units include the Out-patient Deapartment, the General ward, the Maternal and child health unit, the Maternity unit and the Anti-retroviral (ART) clinic. Day 1 started with posting to the General ward of the health facility. The ward included the male, female and paediatric wards and conditions found there includes malaria, pneumonia, injuries and other minor health conditions. On the ward, orientation was given and the nursing duties peculiar to the ward was explained to us. Observation of the assessment of patients, administration of medications and admission was carried out.

Also, one of the students from the university, Akwanya Innocent, gave a health talk to nursing mothers and we were all in attendance. The topic was on Danger signs during postpartum and it was delivered to the nursing mothers and women who came for antenatal clinic at the maternity unit of the health facility. The student nurse spoke in English language while another student helped to translate in the local language Buganda. The education was for about 20 minutes. Mothers asked questions about the topic discussed and they were duly answered.

In the evening, it was a period for discussion among the students and the topic on Community and Prevention-oriented population-focused practice: the foundation of specialization in Public health nursing. Discussion was on what public health nursing is, the core functions of public health which includes assessment, policy development and assurance. Categories of public health workforce competencies was discussed and also health services pyramid with the largest base being population-based health care services, Clinical preventive services, primary health care, secondary health care, tertiary health care and finally the benefits of public health nursing was discussed.

Day 2

25/06/2019

Work continued at the General ward today. Admission and discharge of patients was carried out. Administration of medications was also carried out and patients were given adequate care.
Health talk on Family planning by Egwela Clement was given to mothers and women who came for antenatal and postnatal clinic respectively, they were shown pictorial guides and models were also used to explain further the various method of family planning.
Due to the unavailability of adequate data on the population and logistics of the different settlement of the community we were yet to visit the community.
In the evening, there was group discussion and it was a continuation of the topic discussed yesterday on changes and continuation that has occurred in public health nursing and also Perspectives in Global healthcare. We discussed the topic with sub-topics on primary health care, nursing and global health, major global health organizations. We all discussed the topic, questions were asked and they were duly responded to.

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Take Hold of the Learning Opportunity

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

Onthatile Thusi

 

Post by Onthatile Thusi, a medical student from University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences [South-South] who recently completed an elective exchange at the University of Malawi.

The plane cut through the clouds to reveal the first views of Malawi from the sky. The land was patterned with areas of green and brown and scattered housing. The scene was a great contrast to the landscape of Johannesburg which is populated with housing. As the plane began to fall towards the earth the exhilaration rose in my body while the thought of stepping my feet onto to a foreign land soon became a reality.

Queen Elizabeth Central Academic Hospital found in the city of Blantyre, Malawi is the largest referral health facility in the country of Malawi and was the setting of my 4-week elective along with 4 other students from South Africa. I was in the Department of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Mallewa.  I was placed in the male medical Ward 3b and was welcomed by the team responsible for Bay 2 which consisted of Dr. Lester, an experienced consultant, Dr. Basami a proficient intern, Dr. Pink an enthusiast registrar, and Allan Masapi a friendly and helpful final year medical student. The only directive we were given for the elective was to follow the final year students timetable and we were given the freedom to attend any of the lectures or teachings carried out by the Department of Medicine.

Onthatile Thusi with her colleagues

“You are responsible for your own learning”.

This was a statement repeated to us throughout our second year of study and it is now in this elective experience, that I have come to grasp the significance of this statement. There are numerous opportunities to learn from patients whilst in the wards. The team working in Ward-3b, Bay 2, and the members of the Department of Medicine was willing to impart their knowledge onto the students. However, it was my responsibility to take hold of the learning opportunity and initiate engagement and discussion with every source of knowledge at my disposal. Other than the scheduled final year student lectures, and the bedside teachings carried out during the ward rounds twice a week, learning was often self-directed.

My day at Queens began with student case presentations which I found very valuable. In these case presentations, I saw the theoretical knowledge acquired in medical school come to life through practice.  It is in the discussions of these cases where I learned the value of the art of medicine in a resource-limited setting. Each investigation was challenged for its relevance and utility. The principles imparted in these discussions are some that I hope to apply in my personal practice of medicine in my home country of South Africa that face a number of resource limitations with a similar HIV burden. Following case presentations, were morning ward rounds often done with the intern and joined by the student and consultant twice a week. It is in these ward rounds that I was inspired by the extremely knowledgeable intern Dr. Basami and had the privilege of seeing the art of medicine practiced with efficiency and great proficiency despite the many limitations.  Under the patient guidance of interns and final year students, I was able to carry out a number of my clinical skills and acquire new skills with the encouraging consent of the patient.  It was often that the ward round and ward work was completed before 13:00, and I would find myself with nothing to do the rest of the day. I attempted to shadow an intern in the medical admissions in the Emergency Department or searched the wards for a doctor to have discussions surrounding patient’s cases.

One of the very exciting experiences was at the Grand Ward round which took place once a week. It is in this ward round where ongoing studies at the hospital were presented. Exhilarating discussions were had on the clinical relevance of the study and conclusions were made from the study. Active conversations between departments would take place on how the challenges and recommendations brought forward by the study could be mitigated and implemented. It was exciting to hear the dynamic interactions between professionals that bring tangible change in public health and ultimately improve patient care.

Malawi home

Malawi the warm heart of Africa. The pulse of this heart is felt through the people of Malawi.  The patients I encountered were willing to engage with me and consented to my intention to learn new skills with welcoming eyes. The language was a great obstacle, as most of the patients speak Chichewa, there were very few patients that spoke English. I felt that my opportunity to gain crucial experience in clerking and presenting patients was hindered. This language barrier limited my ability to perform procedures and examinations using a patient-centered approach, as all communication was done through a third party.

The pulse of this warm heart of Africa extended outside the hospital confines. The owners and staff at Home Up guesthouses, our accommodation for the duration of the elective, welcomed our arrival with expectant and cheerful spirits. Throughout our stay, they created a friendly and cozy environment. The staff was eager to help in any regard and provided valuable information to make the most of our experience in Malawi.

The vibrant and energetic spirit of Malawi is reflected in its landscape. We had the privilege of exploring some of the great sites in Malawi. We trekked through the majestic Mount Mulanje, trudged the lush green forestry of Zomba plateau and strolled through the tranquil fields at Satemwa tea plantations.

Views from Zomba Plateau

The friendly people, the warm culture and the exposure to a number of new medical experiences made these 4 weeks greatly fruitful. Despite the delays during the application process and the challenges in securing the funding before my departure, thanks to the diligent work of Mr. Motlhabani and all involved this elective experience was made possible. Each moment has been a true privilege. I have obtained valuable exposure to a wide range of medical conditions, although ideally, I would have enjoyed the chance to rotate through the different medical wards and engage with different doctors. Similarly to South Africa, Malawi has a large HIV burden and through this elective, I learned crucial principles concerning the monitoring of HIV in a resource-limited setting. The greatest personal revelation that I have taken from my 4 weeks in the Department of Medicine, is that true learning comes with an eager and earnest attempt to acquire it. I have retained a great amount of information due to a personal growth desire to gain a greater understanding of the patients I encounter and I hope to continue to grow into an experienced and proficient doctor.

 

My GEMx Elective Added Value to My Medical Career

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

Stephen Odiwuor

Post by Stephen Odiwuor, a medical student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya [MEPI]

I was born around the mid-90s as a son to John Ochieng and Janet Ochieng at home in the middle of the night, with the assistance of a traditional midwife as the only complementary and alternative medicine provider on standby at that critical hour of my birth. My name, Odiwuor, means born at midnight.  I thank God that neither my mother nor I developed perinatal and post-natal complications because had my mother experienced any obstetrics complications, there would be either no ambulance or vehicle to rush us to the nearest health facility except for an old, poorly maintained wheelbarrow that could be easily accessed from the nearest neighbor.

This meant that I had to catch up with the immunizations the vaccines that I should have received at birth, at 6 weeks, at 10 weeks and at 14 weeks later on in the course of my infancy period. In the course of my neonatal period, my mother reports that she developed breast disease, which, after literature review and medical knowledge, I concluded could be either mastitis or breast abscess. I then had to be shifted from exclusive breastfeeding to completely cow milk and that was the end of me with breastfeeding at that tender age before the recommended six months period had elapsed. My parents could not afford the infant formula milk because we were wallowing in the mud and mire of poverty.

At the Zimbabwe Medical Students’ Association annual general meeting (AGM)

In our village, I had to put up with a life that meant learning how to live with malnutrition and, occasionally acute malnutrition and severe malaria due to lack of untreated mosquito nets. My passion to pursue a bachelors in medicine and  a bachelors in surgery course is being driven by these health concerns that I had to survive right from my perinatal period, the immunizations I did not receive according to schedule, the exclusive breastfeeding that I did not get a chance to enjoy, the malnutrition I suffered among other health risks that I faced.  I, therefore, acknowledge the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) for their Global Educational Exchange in Medicine and the health professions (GEMx) that sponsored my electives at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, Parirenyatwa Hospital, that would help me realize my dream of giving back to the community as a doctor by addressing the health challenges that I faced.

It was in early 2017 as I was going about my normal academic obligations at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) school of medicine as a fourth-year bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery (MBChB) student when, a bachelor of pharmacy student, whose lecturer is Dr. Karara, the JKUAT GEMx Coordinator, sent me a link about GEMx electives. It was my first time to hear about GEMx so I did not take it with a lot of seriousness that it deserved. After a period of contemplation, I decided to give it a trial. I opened a student account on the website and requested Dr. Karara to confirm my details and accept me in the system since she is the JKUAT GEMx Coordinator which, she did. I then proceeded to start my applications for elective. I applied to Kwame Nkrumah University of Ghana, the University of KwaZulu Natal and the University of Zimbabwe. My electives would be in August and September 2018. University of Zimbabwe College of health sciences accepted my applications after uploading all the requirements for the elective on the system and submitting my applications.

At the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ)

I arrived in Zimbabwe on 20th of August 2018 at around midday and went straight to the University of Zimbabwe College of health sciences. To my amazement, the elective department had been waiting for me. After a few minutes of engagement and introduction, I was taken to the building at which I would be hosted for the 42-day period that I would be at Parirenyatwa Hospital for my elective. The awesome reception, the transport around the city and the orientation that I received from the elective department on the first day are among the many things I cannot fail to highlight in bold when talking about my elective experience. I did my clinical elective rotation in internal medicine. Among the things I learned were: The good attitude of the consultants towards both students and patients, the awesome reception by the nursing staff, the interactive sessions we had with the junior registered medical officers, the healthy discussions we had with the final year MBChB students, the vast medical knowledge that I gained during ward rounds and enjoyed the beautiful culture of the Shona community. Generally, it was such a life-changing experience for me. Moreover, I was also able to attend the Zimbabwe Medical Students’ Association (ZiMSA) annual general meeting and Dinner and the Family medicine conference at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, Gellfand hall.

GEMx sponsored everything during my elective period. GEMx sponsored my accommodation, my upkeep, my flights to and from Zimbabwe and all other expenses. Special thanks to Mrs. Faith Nawagi, the GEMx Africa Coordinator for the constant counsel and help that she provided for me at every stage of my application, Mrs. Chuma Vunganayi, the elective coordinator at University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences and Dr. Monica Karara, the GEMx JKUAT coordinator. I also want to acknowledge and appreciate Dr. Reuben W. Thuo, the Dean school of medicine (SoMED) JKUAT, for the recommendation letters and the support he accorded me towards the application for my elective attachment.

Thank you GEMx, you have added a lot of value to my medical career.

 

 

 

 

Increasing Quality and Accessibility to reach everyone, everywhere

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

Nyasha Dzinotyiwei

Post by Nyasha Ronald Herbert Dzinotyiwei, a student from University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences [MEPI] who recently completed an elective exchange at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Global Educational Exchange in Medicine (GEMx) for providing opportunities for medical students all over the world to go on exchange programmes. I would also like to thank my school, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, for selecting me to take part in the programme. I would also like to thank the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST) for accepting my application, as well as Ms. Charlotte Osei Boateng, Bismark Addu-Appiah (the Exchange Officer) for assisting me in settling in. I would also like to thank the medical students at KNUST for welcoming me and making me feel at home. Medase pa!

Experience in Ghana

My experience in Ghana has been awesome. For sure I had never imagined that I was going to experience what I had experienced. I love so many things about Ghana – the rich heritage, the different languages, the traditional dress (called Kente), the food, and the people. More importantly, I also noted the many similarities between Ghana and Zimbabwe.  Moving forward, I can use the different things I learned to make suggestions and improvements in my home country.

Nyasha and his friends

Elective Placement

I took up an elective placement in internal medicine that lasted 4 weeks. I was based at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), which is the hospital affiliated with the KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology). I was placed in 4 different departments: Cardiology, Respiratory Medicine, Nephrology, and Neurology. Each placement in the respective subspecialties lasted 1 week. I had difficulties communicating with patients, as some of them were not comfortable speaking in English.

Nonetheless, I managed to communicate with them, and I managed to examine patients as well.

Adjusting to the hospital set up was not very difficult for me because the teaching styles employed at the hospital were identical to those I was accustomed to back home. One of the major things I learned from my stay in Ghana was the provision of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and how it aimed at providing equity in healthcare across economic divides in Ghana. I learned about the strengths & weaknesses of the system and how best the system could be tailored to meet the needs of the population.

Nyasha standing outside of the Emergency Department

The teams I was attached to were the teams that had been on duty at the Accidents & Emergencies section. The system in Ghana differs from that in Zimbabwe. While in Zimbabwe we have firms that have admitting days, in Ghana they have duties in which firms take care of patients in the Accidents & Emergencies Department (Our equivalent of Casualty). Back home, there are about

5 firms which, despite being specialized, admit all patients sent to Internal Medicine. In Ghana, the medicine subspecialties operate independently and therefore cardiology patients only attend to Cardiology patients & consults. It reduces the workload tremendously and I believe it also improves outcomes. I also learned about a triaging system for patients who present to casualty, which divides patients into green, yellow, and red depending on the triaging score, which also estimates the severity of disease/injury.

 

Food

The most intriguing part of my stay in Ghana was the new food. I had never seen such variety in dishes! Ranging from Jollof rice, fried rice, and Waache to Fufu, Omo Tuo, red red, Banku and Kenkey, I had the opportunity to experience a different array of dishes. The food was awesome, and I loved it.

Jollof Rice

Other Experiences

I also had the opportunity to meet many other exchange students who were affiliated with KATH as well: many of whom were from Germany, Finland, Austria, and Nigeria. The experience was very nice and I got to make new friends and learn about their health systems. I also got to know how their medical experiences have been and how they differ from ours. I made friends that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.

I also had the opportunity to travel whilst in Ghana. I went to Cape Coast & Elmina, and while there I visited Cape Coast and St. Georges’ Castles. I learned more about the slave trade, and how the castles were used to detain slaves while waiting for slave merchants to arrive and collect them as they began their journey across the Atlantic Ocean. I also visited Kakum forest while there. I also went to Mole National Park, which is northern Ghana. The environment was different from the one I had already adjusted to in Kumasi. I had a nice time with the elephants J and I also visited the Ancient Mosque in Larabanga, which happens to be the oldest mosque in West Africa

Elephants in the background

Last but not least, I had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony of the 14th International Federation of Medical Students Associations’ (IFMSA) African Regional Meeting (ARM), which was held for the first time in Ghana and in Kumasi. The 13th edition was held in Zimbabwe, so for me, it was a déjà vu experience. I had the opportunity to meet people from many countries, including my own. The theme for the 14th edition was “Rural and remote healthcare – Increasing quality and accessibility to reach everyone, everywhere”. I was inspired by the address given by the Dean of Public Health, Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, whose message was in accordance with WHO recommendations. He highlighted 5 main aspects: providing proper healthcare financing (for which he commended the launching of the national healthcare financing scheme in Ghana); deployment of health personnel to remote hard-to-reach places in countries; availability of essential medicines; compiling health statistics and data (incorporating health informatics), and ensuring quality service delivery

Opening ceremony of the 14th International Federation of Medical Students Associations’ (IFMSA) African Regional Meeting (ARM)

 

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