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Victim Assistance Project Austria/Zambia – Training Day for Student Exchange

August 1, 2012

Note from Maria Valenti: IPPNW Austria and Zambia have teamed up on a Victim Assistance Pilot Clinic project in Lusaka, Zambia. This blog reports on the training day for medical students organized and conducted by Drs. Michael Schober and Stephanie Hametner, IPPNW Austrian physician leaders of the project. Dr. Bob Mtonga is the Zambia investigator on the project.

by Barbara Larcher, medical student, IPPNW Austria

Preparation Day – Linz, Austria

Sunday, 8 July, 9.15 o clock in front of the train station in Linz: a group of medical students from Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck meet. Very few know each other beforehand, but the ice is broken quickly – after all, we all share the same goal: the participation in the Victim Assistance Pilot Project of IPPNW Austria/Zambia in Lusaka, Zambia.

After all the car trips with the help of GPS, Smartphone, signs, or the kind help of locals, the house in the countryside in Buchholz, Neußerling has been found and we were first fed with coffee and tea. After an introductory game, we have names and faces stamped in and finally started the actual program. We learn from Dr. Michael Schober important background information on the proposed study and existing data available. Conclusion: trauma as a result of violence make up a sizeable proportion of morbidity and mortality in low-income countries, and studies to improve outcomes for victims of violence are rare.

Austrian medical students train for work in Zambia on victim assistance project

In the next part, Dr. Stephanie Hametner presented more details on the actual implementation of the study: Objective, design, questionnaires, target group, the collection and storage of data and of course the tasks we students will have to do. In the next step we trained to do interviews  and practice history taking and to fill in the questionnaires on the basis of case studies and discuss emerging issues and questions. Soon it becomes clear that we expect there will be many challenges, such as the language barrier and the sensitivity of the issue of violence, especially domestic violence, per se. This makes us more interested in the practical examples and try as much as possible to work out on that training day to develope solution strategies. After a delicious lunch and a relaxing coffee break, we finally get together again and discuss practical questions concerning vaccinations, flights, malaria prevention, housing and local contacts.

We slowly make our way home, full of new impressions and new ideas about what awaits us in Zambia. We can, despite the successful preparation day and amount of useful information, probably still have many challenges in Lusaka. But one thing is clear: It is for each one of us  a very intense, informative and unique  time. Now it’s just more eagerly waiting for the departure …

At this point a big thank you to Dr. Michael Schober and Dr. Stephanie Hametner and all other parties, who allow us to participate in this project!

Report by Barbara Larcher

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