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HIV/AIDS and Healthcare in Durban, South Africa

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

CFHI HIV/AIDS Durban, South Africa

I had an absolutely amazing experience with CFHI’s HIV/AIDS program in Durban, South Africa. As an incoming 3rd year medical student at the Ohio State University, this was one of my first hand’s on clinical experiences. Our coordinator, Maureen, housed all 6 of us with local Zulu families. They provided us with a place to stay and home cooked traditional Zulu meals. Many of them had children our age that we were able to spend time with. This greatly enhanced our understanding of the Zulu culture and language. Over the following 3.5 weeks I rotated through various departments at King Edward Hospital in Durban, a public secondary hospital. During the first week I was able to participate in Pediatric morning rounds, Intern lectures, and assist in my first Caesarean section. I spent the following week with a team of general surgeons. I was able to observe various endoscopic procedures, observe general clinic days and stay on overnight calls to observe and assist in surgeries. I was able to assist in a leg amputation and observe an appendectomy, gastrectomy, lymph node biopsy, inguinal hernia repair, exploratory laparotomy, as well as other smaller procedures. I learned procedural skills for the first time as well as continued to expand my medical knowledge. During the 3rd week I rotated through various departments including Psychiatry, Urology, and Casualty. Although many of the conditions were similar to those seen in the US (burns, asthma, GSWs, hydrocele, etc) many cases were complicated by concurrent HIV/AIDS and/or Tuberculosis. Virtually every patient is screened for both of these conditions- something that is rarely done in the US. It was incredible to see how these diseases can manifest in hundreds of different ways-ways that I may never observe in the US. In my final week I worked at the Blue Roof Clinic, a clinic providing free HIV/AIDS care to the community. I was able to shadow a HIV specialist and observed how she incorporated education and wellness into each of her patients care.

Aside from the clinical experience there was ample time to explore South Africa. On my first weekend, I went on a Safari in St. Lucia and Hluhlwe Game Reserve. Maureen helped coordinate this experience with a local tour guide. On the second weekend, our group stayed in Durban to go horseback riding , experience the local nightlife and attend a township tour organized by CFHI. On my third weekend, I went to Cape Town-which was certainly a highlight of my time here. During the week days, we had most of our afternoons free. We were able to go to the beach on various occasions (Durban weather is warm almost every day of the year), Victoria Market, Durban Botanical Garden, Pavilion Mall, and Florida Road. Overall, the CFHI clinic schedule allowed for a balance of educational clinical experience and social and cultural exploration of South Africa. With no reservations, I would recommend this program to any student interested in pursing a health care related field that has an interest in exploring a new culture and health care system.