Friday, September 30, 2011

Training of African surgeons on board

Normally I don't copy-paste official articles, but this one is special since I got to be the one who took the photos while Dr Bruce was training a doctor from Kenya on a hernia patient. Originally I was asked only to take some snaps of a female patient, but then Dr Bruce needed pictures during the surgery as well to "use them in medical publications" :) No pressure, tho... So I got to be inside the OR and observe up close and personal.

Here is the article that tells you way better than i would why it is crucial to train African doctors...

"Dr. Bruce Steffes, volunteer CEO of Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS), says that in some areas of Africa, there is only one surgeon for two and a half million people. This startling and appalling fact has triggered the existence of PAACS, which seeks to respond to the great need for surgeons in the African culture – and, more importantly, to highlight “the importance of spiritual healing as well as medical healing.”

This five-year surgical training program uses rural mission hospitals in several countries to train national physicians in modern surgical procedures, at low cost, with the aim of retaining them to practice within Africa. A nondenominational, volunteer service organization, PAACS serves Africa’s poor by maintaining faith-based health care facilities as it builds capacity within the health care system. Although mission hospitals provide many services, they only make money on surgeries. With so few surgeons, it is difficult to maintain these hospitals.

"Try to focus on the white line, that's the muscle. No, don't cut it. Yes, I know, hard to focus, there is too much red there. Just stitch around it..." Dr Bruce talking to me and to the surgeon simultaneously. :)
This plastic will serve as the new wall in the muscles so the organs cannot come out and form a bulge again.
Operating under the umbrella of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, candidates must be African graduates from recognized medical schools, be less than 40 years of age, have a valid medical license in their home and training countries, and be fluent in English. Training is given at a well-established evangelical mission hospital in Africa, under the supervision of board-certified surgeons. PAACS is affiliated with the Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.

Dr. Steffes, who is completing his eighth mission with Mercy Ships, has spent the past three months training three well-qualified trainees in general surgery, anesthesia and maxillofacial surgery. This is the second time the Africa Mercy has been a training site for PAACS residents.

Dr. Agneta Odera is a fourth-year PAACS general surgery resident from Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. She will graduate next year and plans to begin a three-year pediatric surgery training program before returning to Tenwek Hospital to begin a practice as a missionary surgeon. “Everywhere in Africa there is a need for good health care,” she said. “We have capable people, but after they are trained, they go to the west where there is more financial reward.” She is dedicating her life to being part of the solution for medical needs in Africa.

Dr. Bruce Steffes, volunteer CEO of PAACS, trains resident  Dr. Agneta Odera in a surgery in the OR of the Africa Mercy. Dr. Arega Fekadu Leta (see picture) is from Gimbie, Ethiopia, and is also a fourth-year PAACS general surgery resident from Tenwek Hospital. After graduation, he plans to return as the only surgeon at the Gimbie Adventist Hospital. “This program is the best way of building capacity for the neediest in Africa, since we need equipment and financial support. This is also a good way to address and expand the good news of the Gospel. Most countries (in Africa) are 75% Muslim, so there’s a huge need,” he said. “We witness to patients and crew and won’t discharge patients unless they have been told the Gospel.”

Dr. Philadelphie Dembele, from Mali, is a rising fourth-year general surgery resident from Bongolo Hospital in Lebamba, Gabon. He will graduate in 2013 and return to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Koutiala, Mali, where he will be the only general surgeon. “The (Mercy Ships) OR is so well-organized with many things we don’t have,” he said. “Organization is important to change things, and there’s a big difference between what I have here and what I have when I go home.”

“It makes me angry when people say that with so many differences in background that people can’t work together. Here at Mercy Ships, we are doing it, and we are doing it  efficiently,” said Dr. Agneta Odera.

At the end you need to stitch everything back together layer after layer after layer...
The training program does not feature the usual lecture approach, nor does it require the customary thesis of most master’s degree programs. That material is included in the reading, patient care, rounds, operating room, conference schedule, and the constant preparation of reports and presentations. Clinical and academic study, spiritual and ethical training, research projects, written reports, a study of current surgical texts, log-book keeping, post-operative care, hands-on training in the operating room under supervision of board-certified surgeons, and in-service examinations are all included in the training program. By 2020, it is hoped the program will graduate 20 to 25 surgeons a year.

“We are trying to make our residents the best surgeons in Africa. But, literally, the most important thing is not the 50 to70 more years we can give by physical healing. It is the spiritual healing that gives them eternal life,” said Dr. Steffes.
" (by Elaine Winn)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reka goes African

So... since the ship arrived in March a group of tailors come to the ship every week...
        since we arrived in February I kept walking by amazing fabric stores...
        since everybody is getting fancy African outfits...
        since I need some nice clothes to match my red shoes...

I decided to join the club! :)


Yes, I know - it looks Chinese. Sorry, cannot help it, my heart is still in Asia.
No, probably I will NOT wear my Converse with this dress - thought it's quite tempting!

Thanks Tom for choosing the fabric, great pick! The design was kinda given, I just picked it from their posters (granted, I made some adjustments) and I am glad to see the design fits the fabric.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Teaching on Malaria and Mosquito Nets

"In West Africa, over 3,000 children die of malaria every day1; 1 out of every 5 childhood deaths is due to malaria.2  Malaria kills a child every 30 seconds in West Africa.2 "
(From 1 WHO 2003 Africa Malaria Report     2 WHO 2010 Africa Malaria Report)

Do you want more shocking data???

The disease can cause anemia and jaundice and, if not promptly treated,
can cause coma, kidney failure, or death.

To make matters worse, the West African rainy season that begins in June will cause flooding that will aggravate the problem, since standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry the disease – according to Robert Agyarko, UN Children’s Fund Specialist on Malaria for West Africa.  In Freetown, Sierra Leone, it is estimated that between 60% and 70% of mosquitoes are malaria carriers!!!

“Mosquito nets are still the most effective tool for preventing malaria in West Africa.” 
Mosquito nets are infused with Permethrin, a long-lasting insecticide that acts as a barrier to prevent mosquitoes from penetrating the nets.  It drives away the mosquitoes and kills the ones that land.  Unfortunately, only 40% of households in Sierra Leone have an insecticide-treated mosquito net.

A church in the UK has donated £5,000 to Mercy Ships for the distribution of mosquito nets at the HOPE Center in Freetown.  This land-based facility houses patients who are awaiting surgery and those recovering from surgery onboard the hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

When the patients are discharged from the HOPE Center, they will each be given a mosquito net and told how to use it properly.  They will also receive additional information on how to prevent malaria.  This promising strategy will make a difference in fighting this deadly disease.

This is an official article our writers wrote. I thought it would give you all a good background on why malaria prevention is so important. As I wrote in my previous e-mail update (if you don't receive those, but would like to, drop me a line at rekaborsiczky(at)yahoo(dot)com and I gladly add you to the list) part of my job is to go to the HOPE Center and teach the patients and their care givers on mosquito nets and malaria prevention. Becca, the lead educator came up with great stories and visuals to make the teachings more interactive and less boring.

me, teaching
We asked a few day workers to help with translation and props and we try to include the patients by asking them to act out roles - something they truly enjoy! :) I usually "fly around" as a giant mosquito with a straw poking children and adults, while the day workers reads the story... After the story we discuss what we have seen and I ask follow-up questions to ensure they understood the "lényeg" (sorry, non-Hungarian speakers, you need to ask somebody to explain this phrase... :)

Becca sitting on the mossy nets after the "performance"

Of course there is always time to play with the kids and spend time with the adults - a real treat for us, crew members! This girl is Hawa who is waiting for her plastic surgery that will enable her to use her right hand properly...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Goofy ways on AFM

Sometimes you have to get creative here. Well, duh! - you'd say, but you'd be surprised HOW creative we can get to overcome our challenges. These are just some random fun pictures from this week...
Spice up the week - Crazy Hat day!

Requirements for watching a movie: Chair + pillow for eye level, blue tray for cooling, big dead laptop for balance, small laptop for movie, external DVD player for movie, speakers for movie, pillow case against tilting. And Voilà...

Scary looking dead bear backpack to protect your belongings.

Defrosting and breaking a box of frozen chicken breasts by putting it in a black trash bag and smash it a few times against the concrete pole.

Free, reusable gift wrapping - your own wrap-around skirt.

Squeezing 5 people under 1 umbrella during a muster drill on the dock.

Who said life is dull here??? :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ode to my red shoes...

Yes, it's a poem I wrote. Yes, it's quite random. Yes, I poured my soul into this piece of art so if you laugh after reading it... well, it just proves that I am indeed CRAZY :)

Oh, those nifty new shoes!
Deliciously red shoes
make my heart swim.
I kick the drunken brown tables,
walk to steal tomatoes
that roll rotten on the rainy street.

They take me far
to the torn heart of town
where friendly ditches grow.
Hot or humid, sunshine or rain
I save thy redness - come what may -
together we run sweaty all day.

The circle of roads
confused by the crowds
lead to bays of brightness.
Joyful scaffoldings –
their purple dance 
break the silence in my eyes.

                                                                                  by Réka

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fire drill... with Reka trapped inside...

Our regular drills are usually boring for most crew members since we don't get to see it or take part in it. My only job is to stand at the top of the red stair ways and collect the info from the cabin checkers.

Today though as I was working in the office, when the second mate came in to inform us that today's fire drill will take place right next door. Penny and I volunteered to be casualties. :)
He agreed and told us to go into the forward room where smoke was already present.

He shot the door behind us and went to report the smoke...

This is what happened after he left us there... :)))

(Video was shot mostly by me, Penny and the Emergency Medical Team)

First we loved it. Then the lights were turned off and it was pitch black dark. Plus the smoke. I couldn't see a thing. I bumped into some tables before I found a spot to lie down. What I couldn't see was the source of the smoke... yes! As you can imagine, I managed to put my head right next to the smoke can. :( Brilliant!

15 minutes passed by before they finally came in. First they saved Penny and they used some thermo- something to find the second body. Then they dragged me out to the clear corridor, strapped me onto the stretcher and carried me to the ward. By then I was coughing for real! Imagine, if it was real smoke... 15 minutes!!!! I would be dead by now, I'm afraid... :(

Anyhow, it was great fun and for once, I LOVED our fire drill!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Poda Poda Philosophy

Poda poda is the public transportation here. I wrote about them earlier, so now I wouldn't go into details again about the many challenges we face with them each day.

I rather show you how they are decorated... :) All of them are hand painted, I believe by the same artist as the design is pretty much the same. There are categories:

1.) Religious (Christian or Muslim) eg. God bless my brother or Allah is supreme
2.) Sport (almost exclusively Soccer) eg. Arsenal
3.) General truths or encouragements eg. Be honest, Always hope, Sweet love,
4.) Funny ones eg. World Peace, No food for lazy man, Boyz2Man
5.) Company or owners' names
6.) Nothing - that means the vehicle just rolled off from a ferry and is newly imported to the country or the graphic designer guy was sick :)
+1.) Misspelled ones, they are the BEST! eg. Marvellous without the "R", Up rising in 2 words.

The photos were taken by me, most of them from a moving vehicle, so some snaps might not be as sharp as I would like them to, however I hope you will enjoy this collage. :)

And here are some of my favourites:

Often you can put together decent sentences:

 YOU are a SYBORG ALWAYS... :)