The SSMJ are very pleased to have received Dr David and Clare Attwood’s first blog post from South Sudan:
It is September 15th 2011 and at last, after three years of waiting and one month of planning, sorting, and packing up my life, I am finally back in Juba Teaching Hospital (JTH), South Sudan. This time, I am with my wife of two years, Clare.
I will not bother you with the preparation for the trip; suffice to say that sorting and packing rapidly became the two most hated activities of our lives. Perhaps what was more interesting was the mental preparation that went into it all. I spent many a sleepless night wondering about what the future may hold for us both.
We arrived at 1415 on September 14th and were taken to the Oasis Hotel, a place that would become our home for the next four months. Our room was a prefab with a mosquito net, basic furniture, air conditioning, and ensuite bathroom. In short, it was perfect for our needs.
Today we met with Dr Wani Mena, Head of Opthalmology, Chief Editor of the South Sudan Medical Journal (SSMJ), and the Hospital Director forSouth Sudan. Dr Wani was born in South Sudan and trained in Opthalmology inZimbabwe. However, his heart has always been with the people of South Sudan and in 2008, he leftZimbabweto work at JTH. He is an idealist and, as his title alludes to, have yet to meet a busier man. He is a man that commands instant admiration.
Dr Wani set out our objectives for the next four months, which included teaching, assessing some of the hospitals services and clinical work (we will talk about these in more depth as time goes by and plans develop). We also gave him a gift on behalf of the SSMJ -the Medical Masterclass series of books as a donation . These books will help doctors in JTH to revise for their written exams and were essential for my exam revision
Our first day passed as well as I could have hoped. Many of the old faces were there such as the Head of Finance and many of the Consultants from the departments of Obs & Gynae, Surgery, and Paediatrics. However, what was particularly good was that all the nurses in our old Emergency Medical Ward were still present and most importantly so were all the old ward sisters and the Matron, who I had formed some firm friendships with. They genuinely seemed happy to see us both. I have missed them all dearly.
I think that this will do as a start. Our old friendships have been rekindled and our goals for the next four months have been set. That is as good as any first day could be. However, new problems have come to the surface that were not present before. Many people have come back toJubafollowing independence and as a result, JTH is seeing more patients now than ever before. This issue represents a significant barrier to the healthcare services of JTH.