Peace Care Blog

Better. Together.

Humbling and Inspiring


Entry Date: 2/6/2012

Author: Tracy Irwin, MD, MPH, Faculty UIC OB/Gyne

The team is well rested. We had a relaxing morning in Dindefelo. Half the group hiked to the falls again and the other moseyed around town. Market day was Sunday so the only open stall was a lady making bean sandwiches. The ride back was only exciting in that we had 9 people inside a Sept Place (taxi/station wagon) and six Senegalese sitting on top!! While you may be thinking to yourself – this doesn’t seem like a good idea – to me it is a resourceful way of hitching a ride when you may not see transport for a few days.

Transport today was equally exciting from Kedougou back to Saraya. A lively discussion about adding more people to our bus and figuring out that people were not happy that we had taken their saved seat by moving their belongings aside. After careful negotiations and apologies we were on our way….well, not really… we went around the block, stopped to get gas, and then stopped again where we were….then added baggage to the bus….and then were on our way.

Once back in Saraya the team started planning for the quality improvement session that was going to happen with the midwives tomorrow. They are discussing things from privacy to customer service to use of cell phones when patients are present. One notable quote from Meera, a Peace Corps volunteer “At the hospital in Nanafeja they have a suggestions box and I love it! The locals can’t read or write but I love it because I put suggestions in it all the time.”

This is my last opportunity to blog so I want to a few lines to reflect on the trip. Our time in Senegal was full of challenges. Since my last entry we gave the didactic portion of cryotherapy training (freezing the cervix to treat precancerous lesions). While we couldn’t do the clinical component we were able to review, demonstrate and impart knowledge about a procedure that the physicians had not seen before. We were able to discuss the public health approach to cryo, that it can be performed by nurses and does not need an operating room. We discussed how seeing (VIA) and treating (cryo) we can capture women who won’t or can’t come back to the clinic in future. I am sure the lively discussions will continue as the strategic planning sessions occur. We were not able to accomplish everything we wanted to and our schedule changed frequently due to circumstances beyond our control. However, it was humbling and inspiring to sit in a room of 20 nurses and midwives who could now screen for cervical cancer due to our collaboration. A group that repeatedly said that they were happy to see us again and that they want to work together to bring this information to other regions and health workers. If they only knew how my thoughts are frequently of them, my colleagues and friends, and the women in Senegal.


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