Jambo! Our team here in Mwanza, Tanzania has hit the ground running and we have been busy with our projects this first week. We are loving the welcoming spirit of the people of Mwanza and are having a great time exploring the town.
Our main project while here is teaching a 3-week Introduction to Ultrasound course at Tandabui Institute of Health Sciences and Technology (TIHEST) and our first week was a great success. Our first surprise was that our class size had grown from 84 students to 127!! We were very happy that there was such an interest in learning ultrasound and our class contains students who will become Clinical Officers, Assistant Medical Officers, and about 20 practicing doctors and Registered Nurses from the community. We divided the students into Groups A and B, so that we will have smaller class sizes Monday through Thursday. On Friday there is a multiple choice quiz as well as an individual practical test using an ultrasound machine to assess if they learned the material. Our class runs from 5:30-8:30PM and is structured so that there is 1 hour of lecture, followed by 2 hours of hands-on ultrasound practice in smaller groups.
Our next surprise was that while all of our students know English, we have quite a language barrier to overcome because they cannot understand our accents!! Since we only know pretty basic Swahili (jina langu Gabby= my name is Gabby), we have had to practice speaking slowly and clearly so that our students can understand us. I think we’ve figured it out now, and have realized that we normally don’t articulate our words very well…it has definitely been a humbling exercise.
Anjali Hari taught the Introduction to Knobology course on Monday and Tuesday and we introduced them to the 5 Sonosite Nanomaxx machines we carried with us on the plane, as well as the HKB 0112, the ultrasound machine we were able to bring to donate to the school. The class was eager to learn about the basics of the machine and we were impressed at how quickly they caught on! They have a strong understanding of anatomy and physiology, which is allowing them to understand the image that they see on the ultrasound screen.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Brad Jacobsen taught the Introduction to Cardiac Ultrasound lecture, one of the more difficult sections of ultrasound to get a grasp on. Our students impressed us again with their abilities to understand the material. When it was time for Friday’s quiz, all of the students did very well on both the written and practical exam and we are excited for the next week of teaching. Next week I (Gabby Ventura) will be teaching Pulmonary Ultrasound, and Michelle Zhou will be teaching Abdominal Ultrasound.
Check out our students eagerly learning ultrasound together:
During the day, we rotate between conducting our research on the usefulness of ultrasound for malaria diagnosis, working in the laboratory of Mwananchi Hospital, and ultrasounding pregnant women at Buzuruga Hospital.
At Buzuruga Hospital, we are able to ultrasound pregnant women to determine gestational age and to assess the fetal heart rate. None of these women had ever seen an ultrasound before, so they were very amazed to see their baby. On the first day, students from our group found a women who’s baby had a very low fetal heart rate, something that could not have been detected without ultrasound. We were able to notify the doctor and the woman was rushed to a hospital that could attend to her and her baby’s needs. This is one of the many examples we have seen of how useful integrating ultrasound could be for this community. Here’s Dr. Janice Boughton teaching Dr. Clement from Buzuruga how to make some calculations with our ultrasound machine:
Also at Buzuruga, Anjali Hari and I worked with Nelson Philipo, a Registered Nurse who also happens to be in our ultrasound course. We taught him the basics of measuring the biparietal diameter or head circumference to calculate the baby’s gestational age, as well as how to assess the fetal heart rate.
He then in turn showed us how they do the exam without the help of ultrasound and we were able to practice. They use a tape measure to measure the size of the mother’s belly and 1 cm corresponds to 1 week. They then palpate the abdomen to feel for the head and spine to determine the position of the baby. Finally, the use a fetoscope to listen for the baby’s heart beat (see the picture of me below trying it out!! ☺)
We keep busy throughout the week learning and teaching ultrasound, but finally yesterday we were able to take a long walk through town. Some highlights include walking around Lake Victoria where we stopped for a rest with our friend Mashaka. He then took us to a sugar cane juice stand for a refreshing drink.
Tutaonana baadaye! (See you later!)