In the last six weeks in Kibuye, we’ve had the opportunity to interact with the 5th and 7th year classes of medical students.
There are 27 fifth years who are just entering the first months of their clinical training. The 17 seventh years are in the homestretch of their medical school experience. They will graduate in December as the first class of Hope Africa doctors.
While our primary job in these first weeks is to get acclimated to the culture and begin to learn the language(s), we have enjoyed spending some time in the education of these students. They are eager learners (except on Friday afternoons!) and are often trying to learn labs and concepts and treatments that are not even available here in Burundi. Yes, they are also learning the diseases that continue to plague the Majority World- malaria, typhoid, gastroenteritis, bronchiolitis, etc. Both Janette and I have given lectures in the afternoons and have helped oversee some of the practical sessions on history-taking and physical diagnosis.
A Typical Day at the Hospital
Every morning at 7:30, the entire hospital staff meets for a short chapel time. Our favorite part is the lively singing in Kirundi. After chapel, we hear the “morning report” of patients admitted overnight. At 9:00, the students divide into 4 groups and go to the different areas (Adults, Pediatrics, Maternity, and Surgery) to take care of the patients. I was working with the pediatric
patients who had been admitted to the hospital. We had between 8 and 28 children on the ward- often depending on the activity of mosquitoes, I think! Most people take a lunch break at noon and then return to the hospital in the afternoon to check on the sickest patients or to do procedures. Daily lectures for the students are at 4:00.
As I type this, we have now returned to Bujumbura and are awaiting the opening of a new clinic, the Van Norman Clinic that is associated with Hope Africa University. There is opportunity and challenge as this new work begins. This clinic may be able to try new approaches to healthcare but will also face the problem of patients who cannot pay for their care, lack of medications, and other realities of clinics in Burundi.
Update: The mayor of Bujumbura visited the clinic last evening. We hope this is another positive step toward seeing the clinic open and serving the healthcare needs of Burundians and educational needs of Hope Africa medical students.