Blogging Mozambique

Introduction - Dr. Ryan Meili - June 2010

Making The Links is a program of the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. Each year 6 medical students are selected to spend 6 weeks in Northern Saskatchewan (Ile a-la-Crosse or Buffalo River Dene Nation), work at SWITCH, Saskatoon's interdisciplinary student-run clinic, and spend 6 weeks in Massinga, rural Mozambique. This is the 7th year of the program, and this blog will chronicle some of the experiences of this year's participants with a particular focus on Massinga.

We first started this program with the intention of allowing students to have an experience of working with underserved communities in multiple contexts. Northern Saskatchewan, inner-city Saskatoon and rural Africa are very different places. However, they share a lot of common features. Students who participate in the program have a practical experience of working in low-resource settings, they also develop a meaningful understanding of what really makes a difference in people's lives:  the determinants of health.

Determinants of Health

  1. Income status
  2. Education
  3. Social support networks
  4. Employment and working conditions
  5. Early childhood development
  6. Physical environment
  7. Personal health practices and coping skills
  8. Biological and genetic factors
  9. Health services
  10. Gender
  11. Culture
  12. Mass media technology (i.e., television viewing and physical inactivity)

This year Mahli and I will be in Massinga for one month working in the Hospital Rural de Massinga. We will then be joined by 6 medical students from the U of S. Our time here will be a mix of clinical work, community development and cultural experience.  I'll use this blog to share stories of our experience here, to share the voices and stories of the students, health workers and the people of Mozambique, all with a special focus on the determinants of health.

I want to add one caveat. It is well known that I am interested in politics and intend to seek public office. I could be accused of exploiting this space, and worse yet, exploiting the health disparities experienced by people of the communities where i live and work, to further my political career. It is my hope that it will always be the opposite, that whatever influence may come from my political involvements will be exploited to address health disparities. In any case, this blog will be about the determinants of health and life in Mozambique, and while connections to politics in Saskatchewan may be unavoidable that is only because the themes are universal, because if we pay attention there's no way to avoid making the links.

Go to Blog 2: Chegada

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