Blogging Mozambique

The Story of Alda - Blog from Gerri Dickson - Massinga Training Centre - Inhambane Province, Mozambique - June 2010

Gerri Dickson is co Director of the Training for Healh Renewal - Mozambique Canada - Program along with Dr. Antonio Tanda. Gerri Dickson has been an international development health worker over many years in Africa and the South Pacific.

On June 4th, Alda Cuambe joins her 28 classmates (10 other women and 18men) in graduation ceremonies that signal the end of their 30 month training program at the Massinga Health Training Centre, Inhambane Province in the south of Mozambique. The preparation of these young people, with grade 12 as entry level, has been a rigorous blend of classroom theory and field work practice in order to become public health workers for this under resourced country on the SE coast of Africa. Murray and I will proudly represent Canada and the University of Saskatchewan on this special day.

Alda and her classmates owe their schooling to the government’s national health system and to Canada. The Massinga Health Training Centre was established in 2001 by the Ministry of Health with Canadian cooperation. The Canadian International Development Agency contributed project funds to the University of Saskatchewan in 1998. Through a series of projects, this partnership continues with the current one extending to 2014. In its early years, there was little infrastructure on the site dedicated to this project by the health authorities. Gradually, though, with generous funding from other sources as well, namely the Canadian Auto Workers’s Social Justice Fund, the Centre grew to be an impressive facility.

The health work force picture in Mozambique is one of the sparsest in the region and made worse by poor work conditions and low morale, and loss from HIV/AIDS and hiring by international NGOs. The Ministry of Health is making noticeable strides, though, with the help of its international partners.

Alda sees a bright future for herself and her classmates. She’s 25 years old, single, bright and personable. In the Centre’s residence, she’s befriended U of S nursing students to ease their adjustment to her country during their 6 week community health course which is their final one prior to their own graduation.  Alda fondly remembers Dana, Karen, Sarah, Tracee from the last two years, with whom she has corresponded.

When Alda reflects on her health training, she highlights her practical experiences in the Centre’s partner communities of Tevele and Basso doing community development, her práctica in districts around the province, and her favourite classes of epidemiology, disease management, immunizations and community participation. She sees her career as one of preventing disease through working closely at a community level to address those conditions that undermine health. Alda becomes a civil servant as of next week; months ago she selected her placement of choice which is this province.  If she is assigned here, it will be a pleasure for us to continue working closely with her. She will become the field supervisor for our newer students still in school, continuing the cycle of high quality training with its Canadian touch.


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