Drago Satošek

KC Ljubljana (Slovenija)

emergency, humanitarian mission, triage

''1. Međunarodni kongres HDMSARIST-a''

Šibenik, 21.-24. travnja 2008. godine

In this article the author is trying to describe the organization of Slovenian Society for Tropical
Medicine as well as work in humanitarian mission in Zambia, Africa. Presented is the work of
health professionals, students of medicine and nursing students in the mission.
Emergency situation can occur on every step in our professional as well as private life. Many
times we know how to react, how to solve the problem, but do we rarely perform that way?
Sometimes we feel like we want to be rather at work than somewhere else when emergency
situation occurs. At work we have all the equipments we need at the certain point, personal
protection resources, equipment for first aid and for performing diagnostics - therapeutically
procedures and nevertheless, we are never alone there and there is always somebody to help us
and the patient. In some other environments this are the topics that are not self-evident and
health professionals have to deal with lack of equipment as well as human resources everyday.
The Slovenian Society for Tropical Medicine, which is a part of Slovenian Med ical Society is
about medical students, nurses and doctors educating ourselves for work in less developed
world. As small groups we offer medical help at the places where it is most needed. At home we
pass experiences to younger generations and try to make the general public understand our work
and its purpose better.
In Slovenia we organize lectures on tropical diseases and practical work on major health issues
for medical students, doctors and nurses who after one to two years go on a voluntary
humanitarian three months mission to rural poor areas in underdeveloped world, mostly to sub
Saharan Africa. So far we had missions in Zambia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Kenya,
Tanzania, Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, India, Burma and
Trinidad & Tobago. Our main destinations are Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda and Papua
New Guinea, where we try to implement continuity of our work together with local medical
workers. We have been present in Zambia (Nangoma Mission Hospital) since 1990 when our first
project was launched. So far over 250 Slovenian medical students, doctors and nurses were
involved with one or more humanitarian missions in one of the developing tropical countries. All
our projects so far were funded from private funds and supported by Slovenian pharmaceutical
industry in the form of drugs and other medical supplies.
Informally we have been active since 1990, but it was not until the year 2000 when we registered
as formal non profit organization as Slovenian Society for Tropical Medicine at Slovenian Medical
Society. In the last years we acknowledged the need for education of wider audience in Slovenia
and we try to reach as many people as we can to present them health issues, poverty, water and
food problems, the role of women and children in underdeveloped tropical countries where we are
active. We try to mobilize people in Slovenia to act in the light of human rights and let them know
that we are all inhabitants of the same planet and therefore responsible to help each other.
In the field projects our main focus is on medical treatment and health education of local people,
to give them the tools for self sustainability, and to help them see that they can do many things
alone by themselves.
Both – physician as well as the nurse need lot of knowledge from Medical as well as Nursing
field, when preparing for humanitarian mission to the tropics. Beside all this knowledge the
members of the humanitarian expedition need lot of conformations to culture as well as current
circumstances. It is not an easy work, but it is rewarding in the end. In 2001 I wrote in my diary:
"Helping human being – this is why I decided to for nursing profession. The African experience
just expanded my motive."

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