Generally speaking, illnesses are the same wherever you are: a heart attack in Gaza is the same as a heart attack in Glasgow – it’s just that the types of treatments available to you might be different.
I started working with MSF in the Shatila camp where we received hundreds of vulnerable Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian refugees. I was supervising the primary health care clinic operating in this camp, where the MSF team and I provided as much medical support as possible to meet all needs.
After several years of working for MSF in Lebanon, I went on a mission to the Central African Republic, where an operating theatre nurse was needed. My experience was indeed one of a kind. I first went to Google to do some research and learn more about the country and region I was heading to. MSF also sent me references and reports on the country to learn about the projects operating there. In spite of all the reading, my experience in the field was different and entertaining.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic witnessed a long armed conflict, and the humanitarian situation there is difficult in terms of access to health care facilities – which is in violation of the international humanitarian law. In addition, not being able to go outside in the rainy seasons further worsened the situation. However, this did not stop MSF. In 2016, MSF succeeded in offering a million health consultations, half of which treated malaria patients at the MSF-managed hospital in Bangassou.
This experience has taught me to perform my duties quickly and meticulously, as every operation is urgent. I also learned to listen, observe and quickly adapt to cultures and difficult life circumstances.