The Madagascar health minister was in Tulear today and Kate and I ran into him at breakfast. UNICEF is completing their national polio vaccination campaign in Sakahara. When we spoke he mentioned that he would be around to give us his card and organize a meeting. So, on the way to theatre today (I have my medical student hat on today, cannulas, catheters and surgical drapes abound!) we had a brain child that makes me PRETTY excited.
This trip I have been struggling with the idea of how we are going to use the funding in line with our overall aim and philosophy: to make it sustainable and accessible for local people. But things are starting to come together: we were told about the 7 centers that do orthopaedics and disability treatment, and also attempt to deal with club foot. So our thought is to make contact with each centre and with up to two representatives, coordinate a Ponseti approach throughout the whole country. This is actually a possibility now.
In addition, we can actually speak to the minister for health and ask him if he will support this and if he has any ideas about how the government can inject funding in order to make this project more Malagasy owned. If we did manage to coordinate the programs, we could theoretically order good plaster supply in bulk, boots and bars in bulk and use our funding to help with supply throughout the country, making the treatment available more widely and more cheaply.
If it is a Madagascar wide project that is somewhat centralised, we could potentially have annual meetings, training days and even conferences! Okay, breathe out…it’s still a pipe dream. But I would like to say, that I feel incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to participate in making the kind of change I’m really passionate about. Making Aid sustainable. Giving ownership to the people who need the service. This is the gripe I have always had with foreign aid and now I have the opportunity to keep it local. It’s possibly one of the most exciting days (as boring as it sounds) that I have had here!!!
Next stop is Sakahara, when orthopaedic surgeon, Kate becomes anthropologist!