Volunteers in the Republic of Congo
It was another busy week for Project HOPE volunteers providing health education classes for local medical professionals and sharing informationin the Republic of Congo.
It was another busy week for Project HOPE volunteers and other Africa Partnership Station medical staff as we worked in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo providing health education classes for local medical professionals and sharing information.
HOPE volunteer Dr. Keith Williams and U.S. Navy Dr. Troy Borema spent the week visiting ships of the Republic of Congo Navy, where they taught on topics of shipboard medicine. “The Congolese sailors were eager to learn about water purification, preventative health, and basic first aid,” said Dr. Williams. “They were engaged in the learning process and asked a lot of pertinent questions.”
Volunteers Dr. Barry Finette and myself had the opportunity to visit four hospitals in the area. They varied from Navy-run to community-based to privately-run facilities. During the mornings, we toured the hospitals, with the focus being on maternal child health and pediatric care. There is a shortage of pediatric specialists in Africa, so it was interesting to see how care was delivered in a resource-poor setting.
The majority of pediatric admissions are for malaria, diarrhea and malnutrition, so that is where the focus is placed. The wards have brightly colored walls of pink, blue, green, and yellow and are decorated with Disney characters. They are clean and well-run, but at each hospital, the same theme was present: lack of properly trained medical and nursing staff.
As part of our contribution to help the hospitals attain this goal, our afternoons were spent in staff training sessions. These sessions mainly focused on resuscitation of the newborn. Nurses, midwives, doctors, students and even pharmacists and x-ray techs attended these teaching forums.They were so eager to learn what we could teach them.
The ability to contribute to the capacity-building of these facilities was very gratifying. After every visit, an invitation to return was given to the team, which made this a very rewarding week for us. As we move on to Benin, we eagerly await the arrival of three more HOPE volunteers to complete our team.