Afghanistan: On the way

20 April 2017

Sanna is a paediatrician who has recently packed up her life in Sweden to begin her first posting for MSF. She'll be working at a women's hospital in Afghanistan...

The wait is over, this morning I was dropped off at the airport in Sundsvall, and I am now on my way to Khost in the south east of Afghanistan. My head is crammed with thoughts about missing everybody and everything at home but also excitement about finally being on the way! Preparing for a four months stay in Afghanistan has consisted partly of panicking and reading up on the country and “my-bag-is-just-too-small”-frustration and partly just spending time with friends and family.

Sanna at the airport

Sanna at the airport. Photo: Sanna Sjöberg / MSF.

When you are about to realize dreams, and maybe especially ones you have had for decades, there is always a certain amount of “am I really ready for this?”. I have received a lot of information about the project, but it is always difficult to know what it really means. In the hospital I work at in Sweden we have about 2000 deliveries every year and I am going to a maternity hospital where around 2000 children are delivered every month. Simply mind-blowing numbers. I have read and re-read neonatal guidelines, had handover/pep talk with the previous paediatrician Katia from Brasil and I have brought my small red infant-stethoscope. 

The small red stethoscope

Sanna's special infant stethoscope. Photo: Sanna Sjöberg / MSF.

Even though I am as prepared as I can be I am still afraid of a thousand different things; how to succeed in working with national staff who for the most part speak Pashtu and in a culture where very few women are doctors, how to handle the extremely limited resources we will have and the consequences of that, I am even afraid that I will fail my pit-stop in Dubai despite the fact that I have a detailed step-by-step-instruction for every minute and hour of the stay…

Whatever happens, it will all be an adventure. 


You can read Sanna's post in the original Swedish here. 



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