Nurses—Making a Difference in Global Health

GOAL 8: Develop a global partnership for development


For the last two years, I have joined a surgical team of ten travelling from Brisbane Australia, into the Democratic Republic of the Congo to perform humanitarian aid work. We have operated out of the HEAL Africa Hospital in Goma, just over the border from Rwanda. This hospital provides medical services to the immediate regions, but also has a mission to train indigenous nurses and doctors to go into rural areas to work with their own people. The team's role has been to deliver perioperative training and also to perform surgery, particularly on some of the more difficult cases. The hospital has a 150 bed capacity, but generally operates at 200% capacity.

The area continues to be affected by considerable rebel activity and civil unrest. They have a major problem with sexual violence and resultant vesico-vaginal fistulae. Goitre is endemic. Famine, HIV and other third world diseases are rife, along with the severe physical and emotional trauma that comes out of war. The Congolese nurse faces many challenges in such an environment, including threat to personal safety, dealing with the emotions associated with exposure to violence and the lack of resources on all fronts. 2010 is the International Year of the Nurse and for this reason, we plan to take a separate team of nurses back into the Congo, to continue to support and encourage our colleagues in this disadvantaged country, to build a strong future for themselves and the service they provide to their people, one that is based on sound knowledge, strong skills and courage to serve in the face of adversity.

For more information about The Heal Africa Hospital and their work please go to

Cheryl Brooks
Registered Nurse
Brisbane, Australia