WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Bushmen are treated as third class citizens and live in extreme poverty
Adult onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are sharply increasing in Bushmen and alcoholism has become prevalent
Many Bushman children suffer from malnutrition, disease, discrimination and abuse
The medical outreach project was set up in 2003 to help marginalised local people and provide accessible affordable primary healthcare to those living in this remote region in the east of Namibia. The clinic is dedicated to the health and welfare of the Bushman community. The demand for a basic but comprehensive health service became apparent to medical professionals working in the area when they witnessed the tragic and unnecessary death of a child because of the failure of ambulance provision, which they attributed to the fact that the child was a Bushman. The clinic runs on the principle that invests money earned from the provision of healthcare to well off communities to support free healthcare for the Bushman. The service is a unique, deserving and valuable resource that is heavily reliant on the contribution and commitment of a dedicated volunteer force. By joining this project you will experience the harsh realities that Africa's Bushman community face and help make a difference to their lives.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
This programme provides you with the unique opportunity to contribute to the medical welfare of the local community while experiencing the African wilderness and the chance to work with Africa's fascinating wildlife. As part of your placement you will also undertake a research project or assignment in a subject that is of personal interest to you, which will not only aid your personal development but will be of benefit to the clinic and the people who use it, now and in the future. You will be based at the sanctuary for some of your time and will have the unique opportunity to work with the animals for a few days. The clinic is approximately a 4 hour drive from the sanctuary and transfers are arranged for you.
You will spend the rest of your time at the clinic learning from the full time doctor and assisting the nurse with local community carework. You may also have the opportunity to visit the local Bushman village and undertake walks to learn about the traditional use of plants for food and medicinal purposes. This programme is ideal for prospective medical students who can expect to learn about basic clinical skills, history taking and patient examination. Trained professionals may be asked to run consultations with patients. There is also the possibility of weekly outreach projects to communities that may not be able to access the clinic in order to screen for cataracts, TB, and any other medical problems that come to light. This will represent a great opportunity for trained professionals to have a greater impact on the people who are most in need of help.
Established in 2003, the Bushman clinic brings vital primary healthcare to remote communities, presenting diverse and interesting challenges to those offering healthcare solutions. At the clinic, you will work with the full time nurse and be involved in everyday clinical duties and assist with medical needs and will share in feeling the positive impact whcih the resource has on the health of the local community. Primary healthcare is the first point of call for sick residents in the area and it's usually very busy. A decision is made as to whether patients need reassurance, treatment, observation or emergency referral to the clinic. Your daily schedule will be varied and you may carry out duties such as making and recording medical observations, keeping medical records, monitoring the progress of pregnant women, helping with wound dressings, working in the pharmacy and even assisting with community projects such as planting and cultivating vegetable gardens to help encourage good nutrition amongst the community. You may also help carry out research projects such as looking into drivers of disease, including alcoholism, in the area. This project benefits from being very hands on; you will be working at the forefront of primary health care provision in the area and as a result you will increase your own skills and confidence as you participate, as well as being challenged by the variety and intensity of the activities. In addition to working at the clinic, depending on the schedule of the other volunteers and patients, you may have the possibility of working with a variety of African animals at the sanctuary.