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Reconnecting the Link

July 17th, 2017 · No Comments · News

The trip in November 2016 was the first since Spring 2014, and long overdue!

On this latest occasion a mixed group of volunteers visited the Gambia, some new to the project, and others returning once more after many previous trips. Half of the team were keen to meet their corresponding halves in SZRECC, and the other half were just as keen to revisit old friends and acquaintances.

Our aim was to re-establish the strong connection that had been forged over many successive visits. The short hiatus due to the West African Ebola crisis meant that we needed to reassess the Link’s objectives, especially with the initial target year of 2020 only three years away. The Link has a regularly updated Activity Plan to lay out the priorities for each visit, and the influx of new volunteers meant that some amendments were due. The latest three-year Activity Plan encompasses updated teaching objectives for areas such as glaucoma, medical retina and informatics, while continuing with previous objectives covering theatre procedure, paediatric ophthalmology and orthoptics.

SZRECC is a centre of excellence providing education for medical professionals from a vast swathe of West Africa, meaning that there is often rapid turnaround of personnel, within and out of the hospital. It’s important that both sides of the Link know who’s working with whom, and what resources are at our disposal. We had a rough idea of who our counterparts would be, but this forthcoming trip would be a scoping visit to know for sure which staff occupied which positions in SZRECC.

The week-long visit to SZRECC left us feeling both enthusiastic and slightly daunted by the task at hand. Looking ahead once more to the future of the Link, momentum has now been re-established, and further follow up visits are in the pipeline to make the most of this new impetus. We have a fortnight’s trip planned in autumn, with two separate teams visiting SZRECC back to back for a week each, so that a more continuous presence is provided.