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November 8th 2013
Published: November 9th 2013
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The time is currently 21 39 on Friday 8th November 2013. In Ethiopian time this is 03 39 at night and the date is Friday 29thOctober 2006 which is written as 29/2/06 as September is the first month of the year. Confusing or what!

I have been in Gondar for 10 days now. It feels like forever. It’s hard work out here. I am still staying in a hotel but am hoping to move to the “university guest house” tomorrow. The “guest house” consists of a collection of flats about a 30-40 minute walk from the hospital. I have a choice between:

Apartment 2 – no running water at the moment but has good natural light and is in reasonably good condition. There was however a rat in the flat above!!!!

Apartment 5 – dark and gloomy. Has water but no flushing toilet

Apartment 15 – damp, mouldy. No stove

Tricky decision. Not ideal but it is cheaper than a hotel and a lot more sociable– quite a few overseas volunteers live there and they are all lovely.

Currently my days consist of leaving the hotel at 0700 and walking to the main road to get a “line taxi” to work. A line taxi is a mini bus crammed with as many people that can physically fit inside it. There aren’t any bus stops so you just have to shout “hospital” at all the mini buses that pass and one will stop if it is going that way. The other option is taking a “bajaj” (known as a tuk tuk in South East Asia). There is an anaesthetic meeting at 0730 every day where all the cases for the day are discussed and then we start the lists. We have a day of lectures on Wednesday, which I have to organise and facilitate. On the other days, I teach on the shop floor. We get some really interesting cases which I may tell you about another time. I also spend a lot of time preparing lectures, performing assessments, composing exams and marking papers.

We have 4 main theatres and an obstetric theatre at the hospital. Recovery is also used by the emergency department so is full of trauma patients, unwell patients from the emergency department as well as post operative patients. Only 2 patients out of the 20+ that are crammed into this room can receive oxygen. I hope to change this while I am here. The hospital is poorly resourced but frustratingly a lot of this is due to bureaucracy or incorrect ideas about things rather than absolute lack of funds. An example is the fact that pethidine is the strongest opiate that we have because pharmacy think that if we give patients morphine perioperatlvely they will get addicted to it!

I will tell you more about what I have been getting up to in my next blog. In the meantime, these photos will provide a taster of what it is like here. I used my phone to take them so they aren’t amazingly clear.

Until next time.

Tamara x

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 24


Medical school buildingMedical school building
Medical school building

There are 400 medical students a year - government initiative to churn out doctors. All receive poor training as there are too many of them. I am sure that many of them never actually see a patient before graduating. They also live in awful conditions.
Medical schoolMedical school
Medical school

I sometimes loiter outside here to use the dean's wifi! Everyone else does it too!


Note the bag is covered in tape to repair the multiple leaks. Not easy to ventilate with it but the ventilator doesn't work so it is that or nothing.

The piped oxygen is unreliable so we use oxygen cylinders. No air or nitrous oxide available.
Anaesthetic machineAnaesthetic machine
Anaesthetic machine

We use Halothane. Note the endotracheal tubes on the surface - they all get reused.
Anaesthetic machineAnaesthetic machine
Anaesthetic machine

Lots of tape to hold it together.

None of the ventilators work. Patients are all hand ventilated. There aren't any ventilators on ICU either.
Suction apparatusSuction apparatus
Suction apparatus

Note the rubbish on the floor. Most staff just drop used gloves, wrappers etc on the floor rather than putting them in the bin.

Corridor from theatres to recovery

Theatre sinks. Bars of soap are used to "scrub"

This room gets completely full of patients. They are really poorly managed.

Make shift version of a suction catheter. Thrown in a bucket of disinfectant and then reused.

Empty fluid bags are used as NG tube bags.

11th November 2013

Insane. Go live with the rat, maybe it'll keep the spiders away ;-) Exam was pants, will keep you posted. Miss you lots, stay well x
13th November 2013

Don't tell the whole world about my issues with spiders! Come be my rat and spider killer! when do you find out about exam? Miss you too xxx

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