Dr. Margit Vegter in Zambia: “You need a good team”

During my visits of our See & Treat teams in Africa, one of the nurses gave me this advice for our new project in Ethiopia: “You need a good team!”.

It is now that I am visiting the Save My Mother project in Zambia, that I understand the full meaning of this advice. It doesn’t only concern the team of nurses that go out early in the morning to come back only after dark after a long day of screening (although these dedicated men and women are crucial to the success of cervical cancer prevention in any country!), it concerns all the people somehow involved with cervical cancer prevention within an organisation, a region or a country. As an extended family, working all together for the same purpose.

Unfortunately, in Zambia the group of people that is putting its effort into cervical cancer prevention for the women of Zambia, aren’t working as a family. At organisation level, within the extended Save my Mother team, it is not clear who is taken up its responsibility whenever a complication occurs. At country level, parties that are engaged with cervical cancer prevention seem to be more focused on doing it their way rather than collaborating for our common purpose.

 

Which is sad, because it turns motivated people into frustrated people, it turns a straightforward way to help women into a bureaucratic and political process and in the case of our Save my Mother project in Zambia, it turned a lot of effort, input and willingness into the end of phase I without a prospect of a second phase.