Breaking the Glass Ceiling…

…Slowly. Surely. Securely. Facilitated by vision, unification and dedication…

Indeed, this summarizes my experience as an ISUOG Outreach trainer, returning to Sudan exactly a year after our first trip in November 2016. Over the course of this tumultuous year, and as our world has sadly become more and more divided, our extended Sudan team has become more and more united.

The Government of North Kordofan State with ISUOG trainers and trainees.

Vision is what got us here: ISUOG’s vision that every woman should have access to ultrasound performed by a competent provider that impacts her outcome, and the vision of the Government of the North Kordofan State in Sudan in the fight against maternal mortality and morbidity where it instituted the training to 30 Ob/Gyn and Radiology physicians who provide the care to the women of North Kordofan. We had the honor of meeting the Deputy Governor of North Kordofan State with his Ministers where he addressed us in our closing ceremony. He shared with us his government’s bold glass ceiling-breaking steps: female circumcision has been banned, marriage to a minor has been banned, prenatal care is to be made available to all women free of charge, and 14% of the State’s budget shall be dedicated to healthcare. This has been with the support of Her Excellency Maria Al-Amine, Minister of Finance and Economy at the Government of North Kordofan State, the only female Minister in the State, an awe-inspiring persona to say the least.

Closing ceremony where Her Excellency Maria Al Amine presented me with the honorary plaque that was given to all trainers. Deputy Governor of North Kordofan addressed us (top right) as did our own trainer, Angela Ranzini, who spoke about the future role of ultrasound (lower right).

Unification has been fueling our whole mission: our trainers and trainees, in addition to all the representatives we have from the Government of North Kordofan State, the University of Kordofan, ISUOG, Salamat NGO and Mindray’s local dealer “Tabasheer”. We represent humans from all walks of life, all races and ethnic backgrounds, numerous religions and countless spoken languages. All are focused on winning the fight for equal access to education and all have been unified by the probe with its inherent ability to protect maternal health and optimize fetal outcome. In this mission, the team has come together as a true force ready to take on any challenge and leave an impact thereby exemplifying the extent of the power of a united front and how it can securely break the glass ceiling.

Unified under the Sudan sun at Lake Rahad drinking Jabana coffee.

Dedication has been the hallmark of this mission: that of the Government with the endless support it is providing, the trainers who put all their commitments on hold and traveled from across the globe, and our trainees who came long distances using unpaved roads leaving their patients and families behind in order to attend this training despite losing their daily clinic income. All were tireless in their commitment, adapting to all challenges as they arose, making the most out of every opportunity to implement the necessary change. When faced with no electricity and no ability to use the ultrasound machines, the SonoSim simulator was utilized in order to maximize the scanning experience for the trainees in every possible format.

Stopping at nothing: multi scanning stations with live patients (top right) and using the SonoSim Simulator (left) with His Excellency the Minister of Health assessing the scene (lower right).

With vision, unity and dedication, all geopolitical boundaries were eradicated, and with the union between human willpower and manpower the trainees were empowered, the trainers gratified and maternal well-being prioritized. May the essence of my experience in Sudan, with the gracious Sudanese people and every single member of our team, prevail all over our world. With vision, unity and dedication, we shall unequivocally shatter the glass ceiling…

The team with Salamat NGO President on day 1 (top). The team with the trainees on day 5.

By Dr. Reem Abu-Rustum, ISUOG Ambassador to Outreach in Lebanon and Middle East

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