Boston to Botswana – A Quick Pre-Departure Rundown

2009
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In the wee hours of the morning on January 3rd I will be leaving the dark, cold Boston winter for the sunny, hot (like, really hot) sub-saharan African summer.   For 3-4 months, I will work on ClickDiagnostics projects in and around both Gaborone, Botswana and Johannesburg, South Africa. I definitely have my work cut out for me in terms of preparation, but am excited for this upcoming chapter in my life.

In Botswana (my primary residence when abroad), I am volunteering under Dr. Carrie Kovarik who is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Dermatopathology, and Infectious Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Kovarik has been an integral part of the ClickDiagnostics’ presence and success so far in Gaborone, Botswana, which is experiencing one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world.

One of my biggest projects in Botswana will be setting up a server to facilitate knowledge sharing from the amazing PubMed service put together by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The goal will be to develop mobile access while embracing a universal design philosophy of sorts so doctors from Botswana can utilize the resource using different types of cell phones- from basic phones (using only SMS texting) to smart phones supporting our java application which makes the searches easier to use.  Information communication technology (ICT) is, in my opinion, key to the future of the healthcare systems worldwide, so I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to this project on the ground and learn as much as I can from the experience.

In South Africa, I will be joining a team of three MIT Sloan MBA students (will also be blogging come January) who are implementing our primary care services in rural areas and measuring effectiveness and workflow.  I’m very much looking forward to working with these talented individuals and photographing and blogging about our progress.  Once they return to America at the end of January, I will continue to work on the projects when necessary.  I will travel back and forth whenever I have some free time in Botswana.

That’s just a quick look at two of my objectives.  There are many more projects (including a few unexpected ones that surely will arise while I am there) that will certainly keep me busy during my time abroad.

Updates will come more regularly/frequently (and with photos and videos) once I depart.  Feel free to reach out to me with questions, suggestions or advice (especially pertaining to living in South Africa and Botswana!) at ryanlq@clickdiagnostics.com.

Cheers,

-Ryan