“Wow. We had a direct impact. We saved a life”

CommunicationsMedicine, Sharing Strengthening Saving, Tanzania, Uncategorized

Shortly after she began working as a GHSP volunteer in Tanzania, Dr. Esther Johnston found a baby lying dead on the ward. Nearby, a second baby was gasping for breath; she also died later that day. 

Dr. Johnston was dismayed to learn that these infant deaths were widely accepted as normal — and that the medical students she was teaching had not been fully trained in neonatal resuscitation. She made it her mission to help change training for her students and expectations on the wards. As a first step, she organized a two-day course in neonatal resuscitation for the 36 students in her class.

Aliasgar Khaki (second from right) practicing neonatal resuscitation in course taught by GHSP Physician Educator Esther Johnston (left).

Aliasgar Khaki (second from right) practicing neonatal resuscitation in course taught by GHSP Physician Educator Esther Johnston (left).

Aliasgar Khaki was one of those students. He vividly remembers when he and some fellow students visited the neonatal intensive care unit for the first time after they had completed their training.

“We saw a baby lying there who had been termed dead,” Khaki recalls. “But when we walked up closer,
we saw a faint pulse. So we started the resuscitation measures we had learned. And after 10 or 11 minutes, wegot a very strong pulse. That was a huge thing for us. Wefelt like, ‘Wow. We had a direct impact. We saved a life.’ ”

Now Ali and his fellow students have made it their mission to pass the lifesaving knowledge and techniques they have learned along to other health workers and facilities. They have organized workshops for students and nurses in the hospitals where they work, and have fanned out into the countryside to reach rural health facilities and communities.

Khaki himself plans to make a career of providing treatment for children and training for
other doctors and nurses. He is specializing in pediatrics and plans to pursue a Master’s
degree to strengthen his skills as a healthcare provider and educator.