Pediatric AIDS Initiative in Gondar, Ethiopia

Typical teaching session with medical students & Dr. Gordon – University Hospital, Gondar

On October 21, 2010, Dr. David Gordon, a UCSF-trained pediatrician with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative in Gondar, Ethiopia, visited MedShare to pick-up supplies before returning to Africa. Dr. Gordon, or Dave, as he prefers to be called, captivated the staff with the struggles and limitations of the Gondar Medical College, which is the only tertiary care hospital in the region.

According to Dave, the hospital “struggles to find ambu bags and pediatric masks during emergencies, our anti-TB medications regularly run out of stock, and many basic laboratory tests are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive.” Among the equipment deficiencies that have impacted the hospital most severely has been that of glucometers. There is a substantial epidemic of Type One diabetes in the region’s population, and the hospital admits three or four new onset diabetics per month.

The children there experience another deficiency; due to a complete lack of toys, the children in the pediatric ward have no visual or sensory stimulation. Dave makes toys for them out of string and bottle caps, wood, or whatever he can get his hands on. His stories moved many of MedShare’s volunteers, and some wanted to create and ship dolls for the children there.*

Once Dave started shopping at the MedShare Medical Team store, the staff and volunteers filled Dave’s boxes and backpack with the much-needed glucometers, test strips, ambu bags, O2 tubing, pediatric masks, and much more! A few weeks after his return to the hospital, the director of the hospital, Dr. Mehretie Kokil, sent MedShare some very kind words of thanks:

“The care given to children in our pediatrics ward is compromised by a paucity of available medical equipment. Providers cannot measure vital signs due to a shortage of thermometers and blood pressure cuffs; they cannot follow blood sugar at the bedside of diabetics due to a shortage of glucometers, and they are not able to resuscitate the sickest children due to a shortage of oxygenation and ventilation equipment. The lack of equipment compromises medical education as well. Your contribution to our facility here in Gondar has greatly expanded our bedside diagnostic capabilities and our ability to instruct the future physicians of Ethiopia. Thank you for your help and support.”

*If you’d like to send toys for the kids, ship them to: Gondar Medical College, PO Box 911, Gondar, Ethiopia Attn: Dr. David Gordon

This story is an excerpt from our March e-newsletter. Click here to read the entire newsletter, featuring stories of an inspiring volunteer and MedShare’s service to women in honor of International Women’s Day.