Medical Placements in Africa

July 4, 2012

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Medical Placements in Africa

Africa is one of the most challenging locations for working in medicine. Africa is the poorest continent on Earth, and as such, many of the facilities and resources we take for granted in the west are not present in many African hospitals. Africa also suffers many health and social issues that are less common in the west, but because of these challenges, Africa is one of the most rewarding places to take part in medical work experience.

A work placement in Africa can bring with it experiences, skills and knowledge that can’t be gleaned anywhere else, and the skill-set developed from working in Africa can prove invaluable for a future career in medicine and will make any future medical school application really stand out.

Health challenges

Because of the high levels of poverty, diseases and conditions relatively rare in the west are common throughout the continent. Diseases such as malaria and typhoid claim many lives and any work placement will mean you will come into contact with patients with these sorts of conditions. HIV and Aids is also common throughout Africa and many medical placements involve taking part in outreach programs and education to help limit the infection rate.

Most African countries are very rural, which means that access to medical facilities is not readily available to wide swathes of the local population. It’s not uncommon for people to walk for several days to get their children treated or vaccinated. However, because of the limited availability to healthcare, even simple procedures, treatments and vaccinations can make a huge difference to people’s lives, which makes working in such an environment extremely rewarding.

There are plenty of other challenges in delivering healthcare in Africa too. Often, hospitals and clinics are under resourced which means difficult decisions have to be made when it comes to treating people and distributing medicines and treatment. While this can be emotionally challenging, it can provide invaluable experience for learning how to cope with difficult decisions, something most health professional have to face at some point in their career.

Giraffe family in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania Placements in Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the safest and most stable of African countries, which makes it an ideal location for a work placement. While it has a growing economy, Tanzania still suffers from the same health problems as other African nations. With a population of over 43 million, over 1.3 million people are infected with HIV, while malaria still kills tens of thousands of Tanzanians each year.

Tanzania has an ancient history and is one of the oldest known inhabited areas on Earth. Its people are exceptionally proud, friendly and welcoming and all too willing to share their culture with western travelers. Bordered by Kenya and Uganda in East of the continent, Tanzania is a diverse country. From the urban comforts of the capital, Zanzibar, to the beauty of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is one of Africa’s most alluring destinations. There is plenty to see and do in Tanzania too, from photographing the buffaloes and hippos on safari, to exploring the traditional fishing and tribal villages, or visiting Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro.