Sudan Outreach – Day 5: Farewells and Thank You’s

By Dr Angela Ranzini 

Thursday. The last day of the third session of training. I woke this morning incredibly sad that this is likely my last day in El Obeid. We arrived at the International Planned Parent Facility, as usual, early in the morning and after a short overview of the day’s activities, the trainees took their post-test. I’m pretty sure they did better than on the pre-test, which was given on Day 1 as each and every one came eager to learn every day and they all listened intently to the lectures.

Then, we asked the trainees to complete a short, anonymous questionnaire reflecting on the strengths of the program and opportunities for improvement, which will be a help in planning for future programs. After the papers were handed in, we had a lengthy discussion about the course and ways that ultrasound education continues beyond the training program. The team promised to continue to be available to the group for review of images and cases and for assistance in planning studies and writing abstracts and papers.  We suggested that the trainees initiate a monthly Ultrasound Conference in El Obeid to discuss an interesting case with a review of the literature, that they review all of the Basic Training videos on the ISUOG website, utilize the lectures presented at conferences, and of course the Journal for further education. Then, we had an emergency request for assistance with a scan in the Clinic which had been our training base. The patient turned out to have an ovarian ectopic!

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After a short break for breakfast, which is typically served at 11 in Sudan, we regrouped for the closing ceremony which was attended by Dr. Abdulla, the Minister of Health for North Kordofan, an Obstetrician by training, and who has an incredible vision for promoting maternal child health in North Kordofan State. This course has been incredibly successful. Of the 32 candidates who began the program, 2 moved out of the country and 2 left for personal reasons and everyone improved their skills dramatically. Certificates of attendance were awarded to all of the remaining trainees. The team selected 7 trainees to become trainers for the next session which has yet to be chosen and they were announced to the trainees. Fortunately, Dr. Khider, who was instrumental in putting together the alliance of The University of North Kordofan, The Ministry of Health, International Planned Parenthood, Salamat NGO, and Tabashier (ultrasound company) will head the Sudan ultrasound training team as it expands to additional areas. The new trainers committed to ongoing weekly lectures, sending additional images, and attending the first training session in a new site next November.

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The surprise for me was at the end. The trainees and sponsors of the program gave us all very thoughtful gifts of things one can only find in Sudan. I must admit it was a very heartfelt and tearful farewell for me. The eagerness of the trainees to learn ultrasound, their dedication to the training program, and their desire to use ultrasound to decrease maternal mortality and improve care for the women in their communities can be read on their faces. After a group picture, many of them accompanied us to the airport where we said our final good byes.

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I am incredibly proud to have been a part of this incredible journey. I’m proud that the trainees will assume the role of trainers, and that I have been part of this fabulous program. I look forward to continue to mentor these fine physicians as they strive to provide outstanding care for their patients.

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