Articles and Case Studies

Exploring Obs & Gynae in Africa

12 Aug 2019

africa

Laura Jenner from the UK writes about her six-week elective placement at the Kasangati Health Centre in Uganda.

 

The planning

We began our search for elective locations in January 2018. Once we had decided on Africa as a general destination, we narrowed it down to a few countries – Uganda included. From there we searched electives.net, contacted lots of different hospitals and then waited for their response. Almost immediately we heard back from Enoch and David at CFYDDI, the organisation responsible for the Kasangati Health Centre elective. They were extremely helpful and very friendly. They sent us a very detailed elective guide with everything we needed to know about Uganda, Kasangati, CFYDDI and the elective program.

One of the biggest draws to this elective was the low cost and how CFYDDI used the money. The elective program that Enoch and David have set up has all the advantages of an organised elective (i.e. accommodation, food, airport transfers and contact with the hospital all arranged) but without the huge admin fees you often must pay with the bigger companies. As if the low cost wasn’t enough, CFYDDI use the payment from elective students to fund their various projects such as their school and community library.

The placement

We spent the majority of our six-week placement in maternity as we found this to be the busiest and most rewarding department to work in. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings were for general antenatal clinics, with Wednesday and Friday mornings hosting an antenatal clinic for pregnant women with HIV. Our days would typically start at around 9.30am, helping in the antenatal clinic by taking the blood pressures and weights of the waiting women or palpating their abdomens to assess the stage of the pregnancy.

Once the clinic was done for the day, we would find ourselves helping to deliver and receive babies in the labour room, discharging women from the postnatal ward or assisting the student nurses with the family planning clinic. Most days there was also the opportunity to go to theatre with Dr Ivan or one of the visiting doctors. These surgeries were usually C-sections, but there were occasionally other general surgical cases such as hernia repairs or hysterectomies. We would tend to head home at around 3.00pm, depending on how busy the department was.

Spare time

Despite spending six full weeks at the hospital, we still had plenty of time to travel and explore Uganda on the weekends. We travelled to the capital Kampala twice. We explored the Gaddafi Mosque, the Kasubi tombs and the largest church in the city before heading to Acacia Mall (a shopping mall aimed at expats) where we enjoyed an up-market dinner. We also visited a craft market selling beautiful souvenirs.

We travelled to Jinja to go white-water rafting on the River Nile – something I would recommend! We went with Nile River Explorers and had an incredible day out on the river. We then chose to stay at their river camp for the night in tents overlooking the Nile. The highlight of our trip had to be our journey to Murchison Falls where we did a three-day safari – it was the Big-5 safari which was absolutely worth the £300 we paid. The cost of the trip included transport to and from Kampala, transport around the park, park fees and accommodation for two nights.

Reflections

This elective was honestly the best six weeks of my medical school life. I learnt a lot more than expected from the staff at the hospital. The health centre and some of the things we saw there have made me appreciate the NHS and English hospitals so much more!

The highlight of my trip was watching and helping the midwives resuscitate a baby who was born not breathing – it took 45 minutes for the baby to make respiratory effort of his own. The perseverance and skill displayed by the midwives was incredible, particularly given the lack of any real resuscitation equipment. Thankfully the baby survived and was transferred to a larger hospital for more specialist care. 

My take-home message would be that this elective is the one to pick if you want a family feel to your trip. Enoch and the team will make you feel like you’re part of their family and that you’re always welcome back!


Laura Jenner


The Electives Network (TEN)

This article was provided by The Electives Network, an online resource providing all the assistance you need to plan your dream elective. TEN gives you personalised support and access to the latest information, interactive tools, case studies and much more.

As a Member of MDA National you have free access to TEN – so take advantage of this opportunity to make your elective a truly memorable experience!




Obstetrics and Gynaecology
 

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