Post 2: “We need strong advocates to help us make change”

My internship at the Abidjan Military Hospital has been very interesting so far. I have worked with many doctors and made friends with a lot of patients. The hospital is semi-private hospital here in Abidjan that was first made for the members of the military. However, now it accepts people from all walks of life. One of the biggest challenges the hospital faces is the lack of resources to treat its patients. I remember on my first day here, the hospital’s blood pressure machine was broken, which slowed down their work. I had bought one a couple days before I came from the U.S. in case I needed it here. I gave it to the nurses to continue their job. The doctors’ problem brought the lack of resources to the attention of the government. Nothing is being done about it so the doctors are forced to work in conditions that are not ideal.

Entrance to hospital
The entrance to the emergency department at the Military Hospital and people waiting outside to either be taken care of or waiting for their family members.

A second challenge that the health care system faces is the fact that patients neglect their health to the point that they show up to the hospital a little bit too late sometimes. This is due to the fact that they are unable to afford the treatments, which in turn leaves them in hospital waiting rooms with no care. This is a challenge I face almost everyday. I sometimes find myself trying to pay for some of the treatments so the patients don’t die waiting for someone to pity them. You have to be a strong soul to work in these conditions and I couldn’t handle seeing some people in so much pain over a treatment that only costs $30. There were times when I saw the doctors raising money to pay for some patients they had just met whom they couldn’t let go home. This reason is one of the many reasons why I want to fight to be an advocate for proper health care in countries like the Ivory Coast, no matter the social status of a person.

One thing Brandeis has taught me  is that everyone can help someone. Even though I am not able to make a big impact right now in many people’s lives, I hope I am able to make an impact in someone’s life in the future. I have had discussions with doctors on what can be done to provide help to the people. They all said almost the same thing: “We need strong advocates to help us make change. People are dying for minor reasons. It’s not fair. We need the government to do something. Please share our stories with the world. Tell them to look at us.” So, I hope I am able to raise awareness on these problems going on around the world. Someone has to do something.

Nurse in consultation room
A nurse taking care of a patient in the only “consultation room” of the emergency department.

– Awa Soumahoro