Getting ready for Nigeria!

augusti 14, 2008

Dear all!

This is my first attempt at a blog, but I’ll do my best in the challenge to convey my experiences and impressions from my six week mission with Doctors Without Borders, or MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. I’ll try to keep it short and down to the point so you surely can find the time to read it, but bear with me as this first post is a little longer! I’ll try to keep you updated every week, but I can’t promise anything. Also, please let me know how I’m doing and give me feedback for improvement!

When writing this first entry I’m still at home in Sweden. I’m working as an anesthesiologist at a university hospital (Karolinska Sjukhuset) in Stockholm, and I’ve been in the pipeline for a long time to go on a mission with MSF. Finally it’s becoming a reality and all my training and preparatory courses are done with.

The reasons for me to volunteer with MSF are not in any way complicated nor with a belief of doing something heroic or altruistic. I volunteer with MSF for the same reasons I’m working back home: with a strong wish of doing something meaningful and helping people in need. However, and in contrast with my work at home, I think my ambition will be much more condensed with MSF and the results hopefully more obvious. At home we have next to endless resources and there is always a fully manned and equipped team to help me if I need – this will not always be true in the field with MSF! I strongly sympathize with the ethics and charter of MSF (more of this later); but, again, I don’t see any fundamental difference from my humanitarian work back home or my coming work in Nigeria. It’s the same humans, with the same medical and humanitarian needs. Maybe I’ll soon find out how incorrect and naïve my vision is…

Now for some background so you’ll get an idea of the MSF world! My hospital at home has an annual budget of 1213 million Euro (yes, 1.2 billion Euro!). With those more than a thousand of million Euro there are 15000 employees that annually deliver 10000 babies, perform 60000 operations, and do 1.5 million consultations. MSF on the other hand has a total worldwide budget of 568 million Euro. However, in spite of less half of the funding, MSF manages to annually employ some 30 000 people in more than 70 countries, deliver 100000 babies, perform 64000 operations, and do 10 million consultations. Those already quite impressive figures become even more impressive realizing that much of the work is done in a setting with extremely poor infrastructure and social and/or political instability. I feel honored to become a part of that work, but before anybody at home gets mad I must also emphasize that I really value and cherish my work at home! My friends and colleagues deliver first class health care and they are all a great bunch to work with. After all, if that was not so, I don’t think I would be ready for my mission with MSF. Thus, gang at home: keep it up, you are the best!

So – what am I up to? In less than a week I’m off to Teme Hospital Trauma Center in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. I don’t have the setting 100% clear, but I think the expat crew will consist of me, an anesthetist nurse, a general surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon. Together with logisticians and coordinators we make a total of 10 expatriates in the mission.

The Teme Hospital is active in a very turbulent city with a large number of victims of violence. I’m told there are around 20 knife or gun traumas every week; the city also has its share of “ordinary” traffic, work and domestic traumas. I’ll describe an ordinary day at work as soon as I can, but I think I can safely assume that the days will be very long and extremely challenging.

Speaking of challenge; I conclude this first entry by stating my two goals of my mission, each of equal importance: first I’m determined to do my best. For sure I’ll have to learn, for sure there will be times when I feel insufficient or frustrated due to a lack of resources, knowledge, or energy. However, I’m determined to nevertheless do my best and to be able to say to my patients, colleagues, MSF, and (most importantly) myself that I always did my best. I leave it to others to evaluate if my best was enough; at least I’ll rest assured knowing that I can’t do better, no matter the outcome.

The second goal might seem unrelated, unimportant, or even irrelevant; but in reality it’s not: I’ll try to learn to juggle seven balls during my mission. Considering the expected workload and my determination towards the first goal, I’m sure I need lots of stress relief, rest and recreation; I can’t think of any better or more effective than try to improve my juggling skills! While I’m determined to fulfill my first goal, I will merely attempt the second – we’ll see how well I succeed in my mission!

12 svar to “Getting ready for Nigeria!”

  1. Steffo Says:

    Lycka till käre vän!
    Med både jonglering och intubering.
    Ta hand om dig så bjuder jag på middag på framsidan vid hemskomst!

  2. Evisen Says:

    Hej Henrik!
    Vill bara önska dig stort lycka till! Jag hoppas att du, trots betydligt förändrade förhållanden, får det riktigt bra. Jag önskar att det fanns fler som du i världen och att jag själv ska våga göra något liknande någon gång!
    stor kram, Evisen

    Ps. jag föredrar att läsa svart text med något ljusare bakgrund.

  3. Rik Says:

    Lycka till Dr H !!!!
    Watch out for scary people with guns and knives 🙂
    Lite dykning när du kan komma hem ? ….
    / Rik

  4. Jennifer Says:

    Jag önskar dig lycka till!

  5. Caroline Sällbom Says:

    Hej Henrik!
    Fantastiskt spännande och bra!
    Önskar dig mycket lycka till samt ytterlgare en påminnelse o att du ska vara mycket rädd om dig i ett land så annorlunda vårt…
    Caroline-narkossyster i natten

  6. Åsa Says:

    Hej Henrik!

    Stort tack för i lördags! Uffe ser verkligen fram emot att måla i trappan (not!) så att tavlan kommer upp :-). Ville bara visa att jag hittat till din blogg nu! Var rädd om dig!
    Kram Åsa

  7. Nina Says:

    Vi läser din blogg, Dex och jag. Kul! Är så stolt över dig att du gör detta! Se bara till att komma hem igen! Låt inte internetcaféet bli till en fara 🙂 P&K Nina och Dex

  8. Gugge Says:

    Hej Henrik!
    Kunde man just tänka sej att du skulle göra nå´t så´nt här! Beundransvärd är du! Lycka till!!!
    Många hälsningar! Gugge.

  9. Ann-Margreth Says:

    Vilken bonusson jag har!
    Lycka till med både det ena och det andra och var rädd om dig!
    Kram, Ann-Margreth

  10. Pu Says:

    Vi tänker på dig, Magnus och jag:-D
    Kör så det ryker! När du blir för trött och hjärnan är på väg att logga ut, kom ihåg ABCDE och trajectory, trajectory, trajectory…

  11. Kristina H-J Says:

    Hallå Henrik!
    Följer Din blogg och hoppas att Du kommer hem till oss i vår, fulfilled och utan alltför svåra ärr vare sig på kroppen eller i själen. Vet att Du alltid gör Ditt bästa och att det är bättre än vad de flesta av oss kan hoppas på att åstadkomma…
    Var rädd om Dig!

  12. Monika Says:

    Hej Henrik!

    Sjalv har jag nu ocksa kommit pa plats i Nigeria och mitt uppdrag i Jahun. Ser med spanning fram emot att lasa om hur du har det, vet ju fran egen erfarenhet forra aret i Port Harcourt att det kan vara lite av en utmaning….Lycka till!!!



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