Fieldset
The medical and the human side of care

Wolfgang's time in the D.R. Congo is short, just five weeks. But the team is eager to learn. And also Wolfgang is learning a lot - not only French and Swahili.

My time in Mweso is short, not quite five weeks. At the beginning of a new cooperation there is always a relaxed observation and scanning of each other. Trust between the different worlds of anaesthesia and life needs time to grow. The grey hair from 35 years of work and life, sometimes in leading positions, help me building trust and reliability.

The great eagerness of the "equipe” to learn 

Six anaesthesia assistants (nursing staff) and six operative "Infirmiers" form the team of the "Bloc-OP". It is still housed in makeshift rooms until the renovation work is completed soon. The "equipe", my team, asks for daily (!) trainings on various topics in hygiene, anaesthesia and intensive care. I am overwhelmed by the interest in my PowerPoint presentations, which I put together in the evening. Many even come in their free time. All of them help me to improve my poor French.

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Also the station for malnutrition is of course part of our dayly tour.

The working day begins with a joint meeting. All 15 doctors and all general practitioners are present. Some of them have chosen to lay a focus on surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics or intensive care. The consultation is followed by the visit. We visit three or four patients with particularly problematic disease profiles together. We go to all wards before everyone visits his or her area. Naturally, I accompany the surgeons.

Care on Swahili

Currently, there are only one or two planned operations per day. Occasionally, urgent cases are forwarded from the emergency room. In the large maternity ward, several urgent Caesarean sections are required every day. The team of anaesthetists and assistants is able to handle this with ease - day and night. The hygienic and organizational prerequisites for successful operations are well considered. All this despite of all structural and material restrictions.  

Also the human aspect of care get its justice. In Swahili, however, I cannot get beyond jambo (Hello), habari (Good Day), badaaye (Good Bye), karibu (Please), asanti (Thank you), ndio (Yes) and samahani (Excuse me). Recently we all celebrated World Mental Health Day together. What at home might seem like one of the far too many days of remembrance was a celebration for all employees and residents in Mweso with the participation of local celebrities. The opening speeches at the Hôpital were still very formal. Later, on the football pitch, the children discovered the loudspeaker system... From then on, music was played and the people danced. 

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As soon as the children heard the music, there was no stopping them. 

Mental health, a celebration!

For the adults there was a presentation on the topic of the day "Suicide prevention". The highlight was a theater performance by employees, which also addressed the sensitive topics of alcohol abuse, violence in the family, separation of parents and sexualised violence. A format that was well received. The festival ended with a reception and a joint meal in the parish hall. 

And also my time here will end soon. But for once I'll let you take a look behind the scenes - in my next blog post...

Yours, Wolfgang