On the front line: The Somalia diary
As the tension heightens in the Horn of Africa, Geraldine O'Hara recounts her experiences of working with Médecins Sans Frontières in Somalia
“But what you don't realise is tuberculosis carries a lot of stigma - like AIDS - so they won't tell you if the child has been in contact with someone with tuberculosis, especially if it's a senior member of the family.” The highly experienced local nurse smiles at me while saying this. I am quickly learning a lot here in Somalia.
At the end of February this year I left a cold and snowy England to be transplanted into the arid desert soil of Somalia. I'm now working as the doctor on a tuberculosis treatment project in a town called Galcayo in the Mudug region. The first comment from most of my friends was, “Have you watched Black Hawk Down yet?”
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) first entered my consciousness as a teenager, and I had long harboured a desire to work for them. Eventually, in January 2006, the time was