Rogers Musafiri, 39, a general practitioner from Rwanda, loved using his skills and compassion to deliver healthcare to people in Salamat, a rural region of Chad. He recently returned from the country, where he worked as a doctor in reproductive health and child care services as well as HIV and tuberculosis (TB) programmes at the MSF-supported Am Timan Regional Hospital.
Chad, a landlocked nation in northern Central Africa, suffers from inadequate infrastructure and internal conflict. Poverty is rife and health and social conditions are unfavourable. Rogers says contributing his efforts and competencies to caring for patients in great need was a gratifying, yet challenging experience.
What did your job involve?
My work mostly focussed on clinical care of HIV and TB patients, some of whom were severely ill with opportunistic infections. This was mainly due to poor adherence to antiretrovirals (ARVs) and in some rare cases, poor adherence to TB drugs. Some patients developed drug-resistant TB due to not sticking to their medication.
I also had to determine whether or not patients had meningitis – a common opportunistic infection among people with HIV. I checked for meningitis by doing a lumbar puncture which involves taking fluid from the spine and then examining it.
I also performed reproductive health services such as doing ultrasound scans and helping pregnant women experiencing obstetric emergencies.
My job also entailed treating children suffering from malnutrition, malaria and respiratory tract infections, while also mentoring staff.
In addition to supporting the hospital, MSF also runs three outreach clinics in health centres managed by the Ministry of Health. I provided reproductive and antenatal care as well as consultations on illnesses including malaria and malnutrition in the clinics.
What are some of the biggest health challenges facing Chad?
The people of Chad have numerous major health challenges, including malnutrition, inadequate vaccination coverage, obstetric emergencies and scant access to HIV and TB treatment services.
Tell us about a patient you treated who you remember most vividly?
I treated a 34-year-old HIV/TB co-infected patient who adhered to her treatment poorly. Her husband was reportedly HIV negative and I couldn’t reach him to come for a test. This was a source of conflict for the couple and my patient received insufficient psychosocial and family support. Getting her to adhere to her treatment was challenging.
Why would you encourage other medical professionals to join MSF?
MSF gives one the opportunity to contribute their competencies and abilities to provide healthcare to populations in distress – irrespective of their race, sex, age or political or religious affiliations.
MSF is well organised which enables it to provide quick and quality health services to people in need. Once you evaluate a patient, getting the drugs and supplies you need to bring them back to health is easy. The organisation also gives one the platform to gain great international experience in healthcare provision.