Working in Niger: substantial difference between theory and practice

by Ilias Nazzal/SRI,  2009/12/14

Ilias Nazzal is on a two-months mission at the humedica hospital in Kollo, Niger, where he is working as medical technical assistant on an honorary basis. This account of his experiences once more tells about the exciting every-day life of the humedica team with their mission of helping people in misery.

Teaching and learning

Fofo“ – this call reaches you from every corner of the hospital as soon as you set one foot into the building and it can take quite some time for you to greet everyone, to shake hands and to enquire about the health of the persons you are talking to and their families.

Ilias Nazzal is working as a medical technical assistant at the humedica hospital Kollo (Niger). Photo: humedica

This definitely is an alternative to everyday-life at German hospitals and it is one of the attitudes I will take home with me. Of course there is the possibility that people will look at me quizzically and wonder what exactly it is that happens in Niger for the people to be that cheerful and friendly in the morning.

As medical technical assistant (MTA) here in Niger I am above all in charge of introducing local staff to their tasks; to be more particular: I am introducing Mariama, the local MTA. Furthermore, I am in charge of handling the photometer in order to determine clinical chemical parameters such as blood glucose or bilirubin values, and handling the haematology analyser to compile blood counts.

My personal every-day life looks like this: at first I check if different kinds of measuring are suitable for usage and then I carry them through together with Mariama and finally they become part of my daily routine.

But also in this field there is a substantial difference between theory and practice here, which sometimes almost causes me to despair. But the great hospital team and both its local and international members always manage to encourage me once more.

For two months Ilias Nazzal is teaching and learning and is an important member of a great team. Photo: humedica

After all, you can only do good work when you are feeling good yourself, which definitely is the case for me when I am working with this team; and I have gained the impression that this is also always an important objective of humedica.

Of course I assist in the daily routine at the hospital, too, and learning is at least as important for me as teaching here – I would like to claim that much egoism.

Since Niger is an area of endemic Malaria, it is easy to imagine that diagnosing this unfortunately very common parasitic disease also is one focus of technical work at the laboratory. It often happens that ten in ten analyses are positive.

Furthermore, urine and stool samples are the materials which are most frequently examined. This is due to parasitic diseases such as bladder schistomosasis or ascariasis.

All things considered, I am in any case very glad about having made the trip to Niger, and I have gained a lot of experience and have been able to offer people who are often living below the poverty line medical treatment and in the best case of course also to relief from their health problems.

Many kind Christmas regards to my home country, to the humedica team and to all the people who make some effort to do something good.

Ilias Nazzal

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