by Norman S. Waggy, M.D.
Group of dispensary staff and ICBDP medical workers that met for 2.5 days in Jos for a refresher course led by Norm and Paul
I had served as the medical consultant to the EYN Rural Health Program during the 1980’s, so the current status and well-being of the program was of particular interest to me. Carl and Roxane Hill, coordinators for the Nigeria Crisis Fund, also asked me to assess the program as much as possible, and to provide observations and recommendations if appropriate. Although I only was able to visit 3 dispensaries and the RHP Headquarters in Garkida during a VERY brief trip to Yola, Kwarhi, Fadama Rake, and Garkida, I did have the chance to listen to many who are working with the programme.
As a result of these visits and discussions, we determined that a “refresher course” for the dispensers in charge could be beneficial. I had provided one-week refresher courses twice annually during the 1980’s for the EYN RHP dispensers, so I had a bit of an understanding of the types of teaching which might be beneficial. I was able to contact people back in the US to e-mail copies of some of my teaching materials, some of which I rewrote as handouts. Using that material as well as information from the internet and textbooks, I was able to write and print 9 handouts on various topics for each person.
Fortuantely, Paul Fry-Miller, a friend and Physician Assistant from North Manchester, IN arrived in Nigeria with his wife Kathy just the day before this course started. Paul and I have worked together previously in Nicaragua, and I very much valued his advice, expertise, and friendship as we together taught this course.
We did not give the 16 participants much chance to catch their breath! After they had travelled for over 10 hours in the bus on Sunday, we ate our evening meal together, had an opening worship, then during an opening session discussed their concerns and topics that they wanted to address. By 9 pm they were ready to sleep at the EYN Guest House, before returning the next morning at 7 am for worship and teaching! Our devotional topics during the course included “Health, Wellness, and Healing as part of God’s Plan”, “Servant Leadership and Humility”, and “Hope”. The course ended late on Tuesday with a worship time led by Rev. James T. Mamza, Director of the EYN ICBDP, who encouraged participants to wisely use the gifts/talents that God has given each.
During our 12 teaching sessions over the 2 full days (a total of over 15 hours), we were able to address every one of the topics they requested. Teachings included human sexuality/family planning/infertility, pharmacology, viruses, bacteria, appropriate use of antibiotics and antipyretics, sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, diabetes, hypertension, lipids, hepatitis, gastritis/ulcers, typhoid, diarrhea, worms, oral rehydration solution, nosebleeds, sickle cell anemia, Lassa and Ebola viruses, childhood diseases and vaccines, and oral hygiene. We were also able to discuss some of the case studies about which they had particular concerns. Obviously, given the time constraints, we were only able to provide a very superficial treatment of each topic!
Overall, I believe that this course was well-received, and hopefully it will be helpful to the dispensers of the EYN RHP. I felt that we all worked well together, and I appreciate the chance to provide this course. The larger management issues facing the RHP will need to be addressed if the programme is to continue. I hope we will have a chance to discuss these in the near future.