From Elective Reviews - Madagascar - Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly, Mandritsara, Madagascar, 2013 - Emma Criddle
Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly is one of two hospitals in the town, it has approximately 30 surgical beds, 30 medical beds, and 30 maternity beds. When I was there, there were 4 long-term and 2 short term (6 months) British doctors based there with 2 Malagasy doctors. They cover all specialities, but there is a specialist ophthalmology department, and a community health department. The hospital covers the town, and the surrounding area up to approx 4 days walk away. They are a Christian hospital so they run evangelistic services each morning on each ward and in outpatients, and then each evening on all the wards. They also have lots of tracts for every situation and all the doctors are encouraged to tell their patients the gospel. They also have an evangelistic team who are available to speak to any patients, and are informed about any dying patients so they can come and talk to the patient and their family during that difficult time.
I spent most of my time in the medical inpatients and outpatients department, but also had some experience in the maternity unit- there was a long term British midwife there when I was there. They now have 5 Malagasy midwives so are probably less desperate for help than when I was there!
I had a chance to assist in theatre, to discuss diagnoses, to see people as they came in and to be on call. I was also able to deliver babies and became very practised at neonatal lumbar punctures! I was also able to go out on a Helimission trip- 3 day trip to the surrounding villages, being transported by helicopter, to tell the gospel and to vaccinate all the children and pregnant mothers.
I lived on site with all the missionaries and their families, and it was such a wonderful family atmosphere. I felt immediately welcomed and supported and was often round at the house of one of these families for various meals or to play in tree houses with their kids. However everything is in French or Malagasy and my French was not as good as I would have liked- I picked some medical French up quickly, but I would strongly recommend learning plenty of French before you go!
The local area is beautiful, and there are some things to see in the capital, Tana (Antananarivo), best to do as you arrive or leave as Mandritsara is a whole day's drive or a 1hr plane flight away. There are also beautiful rainforests with amazing wildlife and lovely cheap places to stay.
This elective would be suitable for any Christian medic even vaguely interested in mission work in the future- it is really helpful to experience what life is like but also to talk to the families living out there about what they love and hate about it! Not suitable for anyone who doesn't like the heat or creepy crawlies, and anyone who doesn't speak at least some French. I organised it through mission partners at my church and it cost approximately £600 (excluding flights).