Wednesday, July 22, 2015
On the last Wednesday before we left Tanzania, our host (he also served as our landlord and tour guide) brought us a traditional Ramadan meal and we broke the fast together after sunset. It was quite interesting to be in Dar Es Salaam, a predominantly Muslim city, during the holy month of Ramadan – the streets died down during the days and came alive again after dark.
As many people said their goodbyes to me during my last week at Muhimbili Hospital, they asked me, "why Tanzania, why did you decide to come here of all places?” These questions gave me an excellent opportunity for a little self reflection.
Tanzania provided me with a unique learning experience. I was able to see how medicine is practised in a different country and culture.
The country itself also offers tourists so many wonderful things to try. I whole-heartedly believed that Tanzania provides an unparalleled experience for its visitors. I was able to visit the beaches on Zanzibar, do a safari through the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater, eat BBQ chicken from a street vendor and enjoy excellent sea food from a ritzy restaurant in Dar Es Salaam’s expat enclave (when I wasn’t in the emergency department, of course).
The greatest learning experience from my elective was seeing all the striking similarities to how medicine is practised despite differences in culture. The interaction and expectations of the families in Tanzania and Canada may be very different, but Gittelman’s syndrome is the same regardless of location. As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, one of the cases of the week presented to the fourth year medical students was a patient with a case of Gittelman’s syndrome that I was able to identify thanks to the GU course. Having medicine in common was also a very easy way to make friends with other students in Tanzania. Medicine is a very easy thing to bond over – the busy schedules, the overwhelming amount of information and the interesting cases.
Until next time, Tanzania.
Check out Matt's Twitter feed from his final week at Muhimbili Hospital.