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“Walk together” – African proverb describes strategy for fulfilling work in Tanzania

 

Dr. Wylam Faught (left) has been teaching skills, developing local programs and helping build capacity in Tanzania since 2009.

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.”

That African proverb describes one of the keys to success for programs in East African hospitals in which TOH physicians and residents TOH have been involved for nearly 10 years.

“We’ve made a long-term commitment to local centres in Tanzania, building on the principle of ‘accompaniment,’ explained Dr. Wylam Faught, an obstetrician and gynecologist who has made annual trips to Tanzania since 2009 to teach skills, develop local programs and help build capacity.

“High-resource partners like Canada give priority to the local interests of low-resource countries, such as Tanzania, so we can help them accomplish long-term goals,” he said. “We ‘walk together’ with them.”

Beginning with Dr. Robin Fairfull-Smith in 2005, many physicians and residents from the departments of Obstetrics-Gynecology and Surgery have travelled to East Africa, primarily Tanzania, to teach medical, medical officer and nursing students a spectrum of courses, including essential surgical skills, safe transfer and delivery, and structured operative obstetrics. They have aimed to build local skills and knowledge, with the ultimate goals of decreasing death and disability due to trauma, surgical disease, and complications of pregnancy and delivery.

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With the Canadian Network for International Surgery, Dr. Wylam Faught (third from left) and other TOH physicians and residents “walk together” with Tanzanian health-care providers to help them accomplish their long-term goals. Dr. Robin Fairfull-Smith is third from the right.

“Karibu!” is Swahili for “welcome,” and we’re greeted with that every time we go,” said Dr. Faught, who is currently the Board Chair of the Canadian Network for International Surgery, which runs the programs.

“The sense of fulfilment has been overwhelming,” he said. “The feeling of transferring a skill to a trainee, in a socially and culturally sensitive context, who will then potentially make a difference in the care of those who otherwise would receive little, and often suboptimal care, is very gratifying.

“Patient access, patient safety, patient experience – these are phrases that we, at TOH, are very familiar with and often take for granted. But when you see the gaps in a low-resource country such as Tanzania, it makes us appreciate Canada and Canadian health care that much more.”

Dr. Faught, a gynecologic-oncology professor at the University of Ottawa, was recently appointed an external reviewer and examiner at the first gynecologic-oncology training program in East Africa, a collaboration between Moi University in Kenya and the University of Toronto.

“Walk together” – African proverb describes strategy for fulfilling work in Tanzania
When Dr. Wylam Faught (right) transfers skills to Tanzanian trainees, knowing they can then make a difference in their world, he feels gratified and overwhelmed.

 
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