This week a team of eight of the Swansea-Gambia Link group from Swansea are visiting The Gambia and the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital to meet our Gambian counterparts and develop a Memorandum of Understanding, achievable aims for the link and plans for future projects.
To prove that the world is truly a small place Steve Allen and I bumped into someone on the streets of Banjul whose question to us in greeting was, “Hi, how is Rhys Williams?” He was a fellow member of the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) who recognised Steve (recognisable as he is, on the streets of West Africa) and made the link back to the Swansea School of Medicine and Rhys.
Here follow comments from each of the team from their impressions during the first day in Banjul:
– Apart from the heat and humidity, the different sounds, sights and smells of the local market, my first favourable impressions were of the smiles and welcomes of our Gambian hosts. There was clearly a will from both the team and our Gambian friends to make something of mutual benefit happen from this visit.
– The team had a successful meeting with senior staff from most of the disciplines from the hospital, with a tour of the main wards, ITU and main theatre. There was a willing spirit but a clear lack of resources.
– I think that what I saw today was probably fairly close to what I expected, in the hospital at least. I really didn’t know what to expect from Banjul itself. From a teaching perspective it looks promising that we’ll be able to help the medical students here develop their knowledge and skills to the best of their abilities, and by this hopefully help train doctors that will help the local population as best they can.
– I would say that the potential is unlimited: these people are very keen for us to be involved. We hope to crystallise our ideas over the coming week.
– The ailing autoclave has been diagnosed, and a plan of investigation and treatment has been initiated.
– The Nigerian matron gave us a very warm welcome and I look forward to spending the whole day with her tomorrow.
– I was delighted that we had such a good reception and our 3 hour meeting this morning was highly productive and identified lots of areas where we may usefully work together. The representation by the senior members of the RVTH and the medical school clearly demonstrates the high priority that our Gambian partners place on the developing link with Swansea.
– From the equipment side I met today with Huja Jah, who has already begun to form an entire inventory of the equipment within the hospital. We have also looked into repairing the damaged autoclave.