Deborah Laenen, a nursing student at Thomas More Hogeschool in Mechelen (Belgium), recently completed an internship in Karatu, Tanzania. She worked with, among others, Dr. Wilson Simpa, who was trained in ultrasound by our foundation, and talks about the impact of his work.

On Wednesdays, Deborah had the chance to shadow Dr. Simpa at Karatu Health Center. “I always looked forward to that. His work is often vital. Thanks to timely ultrasound screening, preventive action can be taken. This can save the lives of mothers and children.”

“Fortunately, most of the pregnancies we checked went well. At a first consultation, we determined the due date with an ultrasound or we requested a blood test to confirm the early pregnancy. In advanced pregnancies, we took a number of measurements of growth, looked at the position of the fetus and the placenta and whether there is enough amniotic fluid.”

Depending on the findings, a policy was proposed. “In the case of a breech presentation, for example, we gave tips on how to stimulate a spontaneous version, and in the case of a placenta located before the exit, we planned a caesarean section. The (expectant) mother receives an explanation about the pregnancy, and the findings and data are recorded both digitally and on paper. Women are advised to give birth in the hospital, but some decide otherwise. These prenatal (ultrasound) checks are then crucial to identify any risks in good time.”

The Mount Meru Foundation believes that the principle of 'train the trainer' is important. Deborah reaped the benefits of this in practice. “The ultrasound training was 1 on 1, which allowed me to ask questions that Wilson always answered in detail. I also had the opportunity to ask patients questions and I was able to expand my knowledge by clinical reasoning, which I found to be a real added value. This internship was a unique opportunity to learn from Dr. Wilson.”

She looks back on her internship and the collaboration with great pleasure. “I found Dr. Wilson to be a hard-working, empathetic doctor who cares about his patients. He listens carefully and takes the time to talk to them. He finds that important because it has a positive effect on them: it reduces stress levels and makes them feel more at ease.” She sometimes misses that in Belgium. “There is often little time taken because of time pressure, patients then feel insufficiently heard.”

Deborah saw with her own eyes how the ultrasound, partly introduced by the Mount Meru Foundation in Karatu, not only serves pregnant women. “The target group is very broad. For example, we also examined women, men and children with gynaecological, gastrointestinal and abdominal complaints. All kinds of disorders and complications are detected early.” Through his knowledge and attitude, “Dr. Wilson plays a major role in caring for, educating and sensitizing the people of Karatu”.


‘Train the trainer’ has impact – in Tanzania and Belgium