I guess the first thing to explain is the name of my blog. "Babies on Board(ers)". It's a pretty terrible play on words (and, yes, I know borders isn't spelt with an 'a') but I thought it appropriate considering the location of where I'm working: Agok is a small town in the Abyei Special Administrative Area, a piece of disputed land between Sudan and South Sudan.
MSF came to Agok seven years ago as an emergency mission. When 50,000 people fled from fighting and arrived here MSF came and started providing healthcare, initially from the back of two 4x4s.
With time the project grew and expanded, now Agok hospital provides a fully functioning inpatient department, malnutrition programme, emergency surgery, infectious diseases department, maternity and antenatal care, neonatal unit, and even community outreach and chronic disease care.
The hospital is the only referral centre in the region and serves a community of approximately 120,000 people.
My role in the hospital is Neonatal Nurse Supervisor, which basically means I run the Neonatal Unit.
I feel that there was some punctuation missing when my job title was developed and it should be more like Neonatal Nurse/Supervisor as I am the manager of the ward, but also its only nurse.
Every shift I have two assistants to help me, and at night I leave a plan of what needs to be done by the assistants and this is overseen by the midwife working the nightshift in the maternity department, or 'The Mothers' Side' as it is often called.
The thing that surprised me most about the neonatal unit is just how small the babies are. I know that sounds ridiculous but what I mean is: in this context, with the limited interventions we can make, I presumed that the really small, premature babies just wouldn't stand a chance. But on my unit currently we have babies that are small by UK standards, babies born weighing less than a kilo or more than three months early.
The picture on my profile was taken the day we discharged one of our long term patients.
This little baby was born premature, weighing only 870 grams. It's hard to believe, but at the time this picture was taken she was almost double her birth weight.
Her and her mother stayed with us 73 days in total so the day they left was a big celebration for all those involved in her care.
She still visits us regularly for follow up and weight monitoring and I'm happy to say she is doing really well :-)