Sophie visited Mandritsara in November – December 2015.
I spent 2 months of my final year at medical school in Mandritsara on my elective at Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly (HVM), the Good News Hospital. From the moment I arrived I was made to feel so welcome by everyone who works in and around the hospital. I really enjoyed my time in HVM and learnt so much during my elective about tropical medicine and Malagasy culture as well as growing in my faith and dependence on God.
I went to HVM by myself but was made to feel so welcome and part of the team that I ended up leaving with many new friends. From being invited to people’s houses for meals, Christmas pudding preparation and Bible studies, it was a joy to live in close Christian community. Being the only medical student there for 6 weeks of my placement also meant I could organize a very flexible and broad timetable whilst at the hospital and I was able to observe work in all departments of HVM. This meant I learnt more about management of medical and surgical patients as well as gaining great experience in the maternity and ophthalmology departments. Under the excellent supervision of the doctors working there, I was encouraged to get involved in patient care as much as possible. Taking histories in French/Malagasy was definitely a good test of my communication skills. I also had plenty of opportunities to practice skills such as suturing. One of the requirements of my university was that I had to do a small research project while on my elective and I was very well supported with this during my placement. The administration staff were excellent with helping me find patient files and other information I needed. It was also incredible to see the hospital evangelists at work during the daily evangelism meetings and praying with individual patients. It was great to see the gospel being preached through peoples’ words as well as their actions.
Going on a day trip out to a village with the community health team was a highlight of my trip and managing to get a ride in the helicopter during ‘Helimission week’ was also an amazing experience! I was never bored during my time at HVM and felt really involved in all aspects of life in Mandritsara. The photo is of my trip with the community health team doing vaccinations in Ambogabe, a village about 90 k from Mandritsara.
If you are looking for a hospital to do your elective in, I can 100% recommend Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly. Howevever, speaking good French does give you an advantage and I was able to be quite independent during my placement because of my French ability. If you visit Mandritsara, not only will you learn so much about medicine in a remote, rural and tropical setting, but you will be encouraged to learn more about God and a completely unique and wonderful country and culture.
If you are interested in going to Mandritsara, please click here to send a message to Dr Matt Sherratt.