To Sweden and back.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Sweden and attend an international medical course on – wait for it – “Enhancing access to human resources for maternal and neonatal survival through task-shifting by training of non-physician clinicians/associate clinicians for comprehensive emergency obstetric care in low-income countries: from scientific evidence to action.” Now that’s a mouthful!

Twenty-three participants were chosen out of hundreds of applications that represent 10 different countries – Indonesia, Bhutan, India, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Malawi! It was a great mix of different cultures coming together into another different culture, which made for a lot of interesting conversations, new experiences, and a lot of laughs! For many of the participants, it was their first time leaving their own country or continent, and it was a privilege to be able to experience that newness with them.

We were able to take a day and explore the island of Gotland and I had some time on either side of the trip to explore Stockholm and do one of my favourite things – explore and take photos! I have attached an album of my photos below, so for those of you who are interested, check them out!

The professor, Staffan Bergstrom, has been leading this course for the past twenty years and has paved the way for the task-shifting movement in Africa, which is now accepted and under-way in several countries. Task-shifting means, the training of non-doctors to perform emergency obstetrical surgeries and procedures. Because of the significant lack of doctors in low-income countries, especially in many African countries, there is a need for task-shifting in order to save women’s lives.

Several of the participants are, in fact, not physicians and are now officially “surgical officers,” competently performing more life-saving obstetrical surgeries than any of us could ever imagine. The impact they are having on their countries is outstanding and it was an honour to spend time with them.

The 3-credit course was two weeks long, located in a remote parish on a Swedish island in the Baltic sea, called Gotland. The lecture room was in a quaint old stone farmhouse and Staffan’s wife and neighbours cooked every meal for us! The course was intensive, with lecture after lecture and in our downtime there was lots of reading and studying – it brought me back to my school days! We were preparing for an exam at the end of the course, of which I received full marks! We left with diplomas from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and plenty of incredible memories and knowledge to take back to our countries.

The purpose of attending this course, is to pass on this new knowledge to the LifeNet team and update our maternal and newborn care curriculum. I believe that some of the things that I learned, such as innovative methods of stopping postpartum hemmorhage in remote locations, will save many lives once our nurse trainers provide these trainings to our partner health centres!

It was an amazing couple of weeks, but I’m glad to be back home with Josh and our new puppy, Belle. Josh and I have been apart for 7 out of the last 9 weeks, which has been tough. We are excited to say that we also moved homes last week, to avoid the insane traffic and live closer to work, the grocery store, and friends. We are settling in and excited about this new phase!

Thanks for your continued prayers and support!

Nadine

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