Stories From the Field:

Global Health Nursing In West Africa

Anne Marie Borden MPH, RN, a Nurse Case Manager in the Cardiology Division, was granted a Center for Global Health Travel Award to spend three weeks in West Africa as a community health nurse.

As I embarked on my journey to Togo and Benin, West Africa, my goal was to apply my nursing knowledge and skills to help the African people where healthcare education is limited and basic, at best. As a nurse, I believe that I have the ability to impact positively upon the lives of people who do not have all of the benefits of a large academic medical facility such as MGH. It is a pleasure to share my skills and knowledge.

My trip to West Africa was a collaboration with Project HOPE, the US Navy, local healthcare providers and governmental agencies.  My specific goal was to help educate patients about the symptoms and long range effects of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.  It is important to help the patients understand their specific health situations so that they may seek help when necessary and become active participants in their own care and treatment including lifestyle changes necessary in order to limit the progression of disease.

The entire experience was incredibly rewarding to me personally and professionally.  I discovered at the end of my trip to West Africa and through the many people I encountered during my journey, that my nursing career continues to reward me in countless ways.  This opportunity allowed me to treat and educate hundreds of people in this under-recognized part of the world.  As I reflect upon those weeks spent in Africa, I know that I am truly the one who received an education from my patients during that period.  The grace and gratitude exhibited by the people of West Africa will remain in my heart and mind forever.  It was truly a life changing experience for me as a nurse.