And new beginnings

02 September 2010

The closure ceremony was a great success – 350 people, traditional folk musicians (with the real one metre long Vuvuzelas, not the little ones we saw at the televised world cup matches), and the opportunity to remind the community of MSFs new role here in Bunia.

The hospital Bon Marché exists no more - except for the Women’s Health service, which will be taken over by a local association in the coming weeks. So we will still be in Bunia to ensure that this new Women’s Health / Sexual Violence service gets up and running. We will also continue the process of skill transfer and capacity building at the hospital and 7 health centres, to ensure that the transfer of pediatric services that has already taken place is fully successful – that the quality is maintained, and that the health facilities can meet the population's pediatric health needs autonomously. And the same for HIV – we will continue our support to the hospital to try to ensure that quality of care and availability of medications continues after our departure.

It’s a challenge to guide a team through this stage – with 100 people laid off, and all our work (as we knew it) at an end, we are all liable to feel a little lost and deflated. So we’ve made the effort to elaborate our vision for the coming months, and to generate objectives that we review periodically. It’s an interesting transition – the move from traditional MSF style hi-tech substitution healthcare, to fully integrated, resource-limited, sustainable healthcare. We just have to keep telling ourselves that this change represents an interesting opportunity for creative collaborative working – and is not just a half-hearted attempt to delay our final adieu to Bunia.

I am optimistic now. At times, with threats of strikes and the total absence of medications I thought that we would never get there. Yet now we are already there – the quality of care is more than acceptable, and a huge number of obstacles have been overcome. Now it is just a question of figuring out how to stay at this level in the years to come!