Handling between 600 to 1,000 cases yearly, AMREF Flying Doctors (AFD) has become a trusted brand to offer medical technical and logistical solutions for AFD partners. The area we cover includes Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and South Sudan (Juba). AFD also offers assistance in other areas outside of this region on a case-by-case basis.
AMREF Flying Doctors received a request from its partners to provide assistance in Central Africa Republic. The request was to assist in arranging a crisis psychologist for three clients who had been involved in an accident. The clients were supposedly in Central Africa Republic, although their exact location at the time of request for service was unknown. AFD reached out to a local contact based in Bangui to assist in recommending a registered French-speaking psychologist.
Within a day of making our request, the AFD contact had found a psychologist willing to see the three clients in question. We went back to our partner, who requested that we hold on as they were still trying to obtain the exact location of their clients. Two days following the request for service, our assistance partner informed AFD that only two clients needed the psychologist assessment; one client was in Bangui and the other in Goma, city in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which meant we would have to source two psychologists in two different countries. AMREF got in touch with a local contact they had worked with in the past to assist with setting up a psychologist assessment.
After some back and forth between AFD and the assistance partner, it later emerged that the client was actually in Bukavu, about 450km south of Goma and tucked in a bay in Lake Kivu. Our local representative spoke with the psychologist, who agreed to take a boat ride to Bukavu and see the client.
Dealing with the aftermath of trauma
The two clients worked for a Danish nongovernmental organisation. Their colleagues had been involved in a horrific accident on 9 September 2021 after the vehicle they were travelling in hit an explosive device, resulting in a fatality. Those who survived had minor injuries. These two clients were displaying symptoms of low energy, sad mood, anxiety and worry; typical symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Thankfully, French-speaking psychologists reviewed the two clients and prepared reports in French which were forwarded to our assistance partner. Another two assessments were recommended for the client in Bangui, and these were conducted successfully after cover for the extra sessions was approved.
The power of local networks
It is not every time that assistance requests will proceed in a textbook fashion. The success of many ad-hoc requests is due to being able to find flexible solutions to what may appear to be complex requests. In this case, AFD reached out to local partners in both Bangui and in DRC to provide a solution for their partner. These local partners included ground handlers in Bangui and in DRC, and a contact who works in a Kenyan-owned hospital based in Goma.
AFD has had the privilege to conduct Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support courses in Nairobi to doctors and nurses working in Goma and Bukavu. The foreign NGO employers with whom AFD has some collaboration for training sponsor these medical workers, who have in turn become potential and reliable resources in local network.