Groupe de champs
Hello from Mweso

Hey all, am writing this from my garden in Mweso, my new home in the Congo. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks but to cut a long story short, the doctor working at the hospital up the road left and I’ve been asked to leave Kitchanga to take his place. Gone are my lovely team of five Congolese nurses and crazy treks through beautiful jungle over rivers to get to remote clinics, instead I have a 140 bed hospital filled mainly with paediatrics and pregnant women to manage.

Hey all, am writing this from my garden in Mweso, my new home in the Congo. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks but to cut a long story short, the doctor working at the hospital up the road left and I’ve been asked to leave Kitchanga to take his place. Gone are my lovely team of five Congolese nurses and crazy treks through beautiful jungle over rivers to get to remote clinics, instead I have a 140 bed hospital filled mainly with paediatrics and pregnant women to manage, which is frankly terrifying having never worked in Obstretic &gynaecologic or Paediatrics. I’ll be working alongside a team of Congolese Ministry of Health Doctors; it’s all part of MSF’s policy of supporting the local health infrastructure rather than replacing it with foreign doctors, which I whole heartedly believe in. It’s just that I get the feeling it’s going to take a little negotiation skills… in French. Not sure what I’m going to do or how I’m going to do it, but I guess I’ll give it my best.

The pathology is fascinating, although the lack of diagnostic tests blows my minds. No X-rays, of course, but not even culture facilities. We have a FBC machine, a microscope to examine stool and urine and can test for Hepatitis B and C, syphilis and HIV. Lots of tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition, pneumonias, gastroenteritis and the occasional cardiopath or fascinating adult with massive lymph nodes or gross ascites or interesting murmurs, who I enjoy mulling over and scratching my head at and then realise there’s no way to confirm a diagnosis anyway. I am also responsible for managing the lab, which has delighted me so much that I am rapidly filling my camera’s memory stick with photos of acid-fast bacilli and video footage of wriggling Strongyloides down the microscope.

Mweso is a little village with one high street. The other expats think its hysterical that I refer to it as a high street since it’s just a mud road with mud houses and thatched roofing on both sides, and goats on the road, and not much else, but I think its gives it a sense of normality for me. The hospital here is massive by comparison and people come from all over the nearby and not so nearby villages. Some come from the village in the mountains where we used to do our mobile clinics, they’ve usually walked six hours to get here. My view out of my bedroom window in Kitchanga was of green mountains and spectacular sunsets, here my room is next door to the office and my view is of a grey stone wall and the IDP camp on the hill (Internally Displaced People –people who have had to flee their homes like refugees but they haven’t crossed an international border). Nevertheless being a little village, we see a lot more of the stunning countryside. Hopefully, in time, I’ll settle in…