Medics Without Vacation - Kigali
In Africa, a lack of qualified staff and of medical equipment prevent hospitals from offering their patients the quality care they require. Faulty diagnoses, treatments and/or medication are no exception and often have a deadly outcome.
Because of a lack of structure, motivation and most of all knowledge, most hospitals miss the required efficiency, rendering the patients’ chances of recovery almost non-existent.
What distinguishes Medics Without Vacation (MWV) from other organisations is their firm belief in medical knowledge transfer. They are convinced that collaboration and transfer of knowledge and experience can lead to a sustained health care development.
The idea for MWV arose in 1980, when two Belgian physicians took a vacation to Cameroon. When asked by the local physician why they did not operate on polio affected children instead of vacationing, the surgeon and urologist decided to found an organisation of medics that use their vacations to volunteer in Africa.
MWV started her first mission in 1981, and has thus far expanded to a crew of 400 doctors and paramedics volunteering in such countries as D.R. Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Cameroon.
Every week two medical teams transport medication and medical equipment to partner hospitals, sharing knowledge and experience through short, intensive collaborations.
The goals that MWV aspires are, amongst others, improving organisational skills and hygiene levels and instilling more effective techniques in order to create a more pleasant and motivational work environment on the spot.
In September 2010, two volunteers, Dries Tant and Tom Blockeel, worked at the emergency ward of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK), one of Kigali’s most renowned hospitals.
For a period of two days, there was no running water. Oxygen supply and sterile material were unavailable for an indefinite amount of time.
The lack of hygiene causes a constant penetrating smell of flesh wounds and urine.
While the influx of patients grows, the lack of staff and equipment causes waiting periods of hours, sometimes days. Often, it is (literally) too late for help.
Working under these circumstances requires a strong social and mostly creative engagement.