Medical Elective Part 1

It's revision time again and I'm managing to find ever more imaginative ways to procrastinate; hence I've decided to put up a post about my medical elective last Summer (2012)!

One of the best things about being at University for five years is that you get five whole summers to travel around the world! However in the fourth year of medical school at Leeds we are encouraged to go on a medical elective. Basically, we had to organise a two-month period working in a hospital. That may sound dull... BUT you're allowed to work in any hospital in any country in the world 'within reason' - working in Baghdad etc etc might not be the safest option let's face it.

It's a pretty awesome opportunity really. So there are basically two approaches; go to a developed country (i.e. Australia and surf for two months) or go to developing continents (i.e. parts of Africa where you end up with way too much responsibility in resource limited hospitals with very little experience). I chose the latter.

The main offices of the hospital and the spare 4x4 that doesn't actually work.
Kilimatinde Hospital: The grand main entrance.
I managed to organise a two month stint working in Tanzania in Kilimatinde hospital; a tiny, privately funded 200-bed hospital in the middle of nowhere in Tanzania. This place was rural, the village it was situated in had only two vegetables 'stores'. When I say stores they were tables out in the open with a row of 10 or so red onions, a small handful of anaemic looking garlic bulbs and if you were particularly lucky a few peppers. There was, however, a really cool local shop that looked like it was out of 1930s Britain with the weirdest array of stuff, from single toilet paper rolls to bright plastic necklaces for children. The village didn't have a power grid so if people wanted electricity they had to buy tiny generators the size of a shoe box that ran off diesel, which meant that the shop had a small fridge with CHILLED Coca Cola in old-school glasses! I discovered this a month in and let me tell you, having a chilled drink was the ultimate in luxury.

Anyway back to the beginning, I flew from Manchester to Dar Es Salaam via Doha overnight which was a looooonnnng flight and landed at 11am. Without having had a wink of sleep I met David, our 'fixer', who had to get me onto a coach to get to Kilimatinde before it left in 30 minutes. I ended up getting on a haggard old motorbike with a stupidly big 60 litre backpack on in rush hour traffic and let's just say this guy wasn't wholly concerned with  my safety. This was bang on how I wanted to start my stay in TZ - I was sleep deprived, hot, and scared but I couldn't help smiling the entire way. The Tanzanians refer to white people as muzungos and don't see us very often so tend to stare. As you can imagine, being a 6' 3'' white guy with a huge rucksack on his back on a motorbike grinning like the Cheshire cat, there was a lot of staring. A lot.

Home sweet home.

I made it to the coach in time and met up with a group of Muzungo Christian missionaries who were coincidentally travelling to Kilimatinde but staying in the town near Kilimatinde called Manyoni. After an eight hour coach journey I finally made it to Kilimatinde at around 9pm, and having travelled in complete darkness for the last few hours was completely disorientated and exhausted. I was given a quick tour of my new house (?!) for the next two months and upon being told to meet at the hospital at 8am the next day, passed out under the old broken mosquito net with my alarm set...


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