Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Why Botswana?

Why not?

No, seriously. My friend John Pederson asked this question on my blog last week, and before I leave I might as well explain to my plethora of blog readers why I will find myself in Botswana, Africa in less than a week. My residency program (the Penn Internal Medicine Program) has a long-running affiliation with one of the larger public hospitals (it has over 550 beds) in Gaborone, Botswana called Princess Marina Hospital. As such, it is relatively easy to set up an "away elective" where we serve as residents in this hospital. It's also quite affordable compared other potential foreign electives, as the Penn program will pay for my airplane ticket (which is about $1700!) as well as my lodging in a communal flat not far from the hospital. I'll be spending 5 weeks working at PMH in Gaborone, followed by a week of vacation in Cape Town, South Africa. Hopefully I'll be able to get some traveling in on weekends, too--one of my goals is definitely to see some elephants. Throughout the 6 weeks I'll be accompanied by my resident friends Kara & Jon; plus we're going to overlap with a few other residents (Sameer, Matt, Helen, and George) so fortunately I'll have some good company.

Why did Penn choose Botswana? I'm not sure of the history. However, I think the fact that it's considered a very stable political situation helped. Also, while Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world (I am told that about 40% of the population is HIV+, and about 85% of the inpatients at the hospital I'm working at), it is also one of the few African countries which can afford anti-HIV medications AND has a sensible plan for halting its progression. A really good HIV in Botswana web site can be found here.

I'm told that I should have Internet access, but that it's not that fastest ever. I've also heard that I'm going to be crazy busy while working, so we'll have to see how often I'm able to make it my blog. However, it certainly sounds like a very blog-worthy place, so I'm going to do my best to keep things updated.

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