MHB students complete 3-month elective in Tanzania

Neuruppin, 19 April 2022

Can Gero Leineweber and Maximilian Fichtl, students at the Brandenburg Medical School, complete the obligatory 3-month elective in surgery at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi, Tanzania.

Medical student Can Gero Leineweber (13th semester) points to the MHB approach of combining broadly based and practice-oriented medical education with personal growth and dedication to issues of high social relevance: “Our period at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi/Tanzania brought all these aspects and principles together – for me a very formative phase.”

Maximilian Fichtl (same semester) adds: “It is important to us to gain experience beyond the limits of what we know, to expand our medical knowledge and get a comprehensive picture of health care. The stay in Tanzania offered ideal conditions and opportunities for this, in terms of existing resources and ways to cope with challenges in daily clinical practice, such as hygiene and disease symptoms that are totally different from what you usually see in OECD countries.”

Maximilian Fichtl and Can Gero Leineweber (from left) had much to discover inside and outside the medical centre.

Their period in Tanzania met requirements of the obligatory 3-month elective in surgery. Accordingly, the two students were first assigned to general surgery and later, in addition, to the central emergency ward with observation sessions in surgical gynaecology and on the HIV ward. Can Gero describes the symptoms they saw and some patient stories they heard as “very different from experiences to be gained in the German health system – such as: medical interventions based on ancient customs and rites, severe pathologies because early intervention was either not possible for lack of money or not wanted for religious reasons, accidents due to a different or non-existent infrastructure, or injuries from encounters with wild animals like rhinos or hyenas.”

Tanzania was also hard hit by the pandemic. Maximilian: “Corona had a tremendous impact on the medical centre. Protective measures like face covers were introduced only recently by the new president, and a Covid ward didn’t exist and had to be established.” Both students say the Tanzania experience has not fundamentally changed their perception of the western system of health care but has certainly increased their gratitude for and appreciation of the existing infrastructure; reliable health care provision and comprehensive insurance cover can by no means be taken for granted.

They are about to take the third state examination and are looking forward to the subsequent specialist training.