Dr. Serge Mathurin Kabore, MD, MSc, Doctors Without Borders, Canada, Africa
Tell us about your background and what got you interested in health and medicine?
I am a physician with a specialization in public health. I worked as a physician in several countries in Africa, in different humanitarian health programs and emergencies with Doctor Without Borders. From my country of origin (Burkina Faso) to have access to a hospital and a physician, it is all like running a marathon without reaching your arrival. As a child I had to run the same marathon when we were sick to get a health professional. I decided to become a physician to be able to help people get access to a decent health care. To achieve that, working to make developing countries access the best health care has been my focus in the past years.
Tell us about your practice and the neighborhood or different locations that you work in
For more than fourteen years, I have been in several countries in Africa working in various health programs to bring health care closer to people. As a physician it is always a challenge with resources in a limited setting to get what is the best for your patients. With Doctors Without Borders, we tirelessly work to control several infectious disease outbreaks (Cholera, measles, HIV, hemoragic fever, and more), in Cameroun, Democratic republic of Congo, Mozambic and Eswatini. We build hospitals, help countries reinforce their health system. From several hospital and health care facilities I was able to impact and change the direction of these diseases either in a community or for individuals.
Back in Canada my focus was to continue to work as a public health physician with Doctors without Borders and the Public Health Agency of Canada to improve the health of the population.
How has your routine changed since the pandemic?
With Doctors without Borders, travelling has been challenging and I am doing more telemedicine to assist medical teams remotely via MSF telemedicine platform in the delivery of care they are doing in very difficult conditions. Also, here in Canada, my scope of work has been extended to cover COVID19 preparedness and response in the jurisdiction.
How does trust play a role in your daily routine, especially in the current COVID atmosphere?
Covid19 changes our perception of working together closer. Several things have to be handled remotely when possible. Without trust we could not work together. Because lot of things were new in terms of set up and response to this pandemic, we've had to adapt and find ways to work together for the best. It allows everyone to push his own boundaries, and be more flexible, and build more solidarity among colleagues to tackle this disease in our communities.
What do you wish the public knew about what you experience, in your field of health?
I want people to know that our behavior is the main driver of our health. Either you are sick or healthy, but it is key to have everyday behavior that keeps you and others in good health. As a physician, I am always amazed when I see individuals promoting behavior changes for themselves and the wellbeing of their communities. By our behavior we can transmit disease and by our behavior we can get sick. This current pandemic is just reminding us this.
What is the best part of your day? The hardest?
Best part of my day is when I am able to make someone smile and have faith that things will surely improve for them. Hardest is to still see COVID19 in our communities.
Will Covid-19 change your approach to your work going forward?
Surely, there are several things we can do remotely and several things that we really do not need to do always. Putting humans in the centre of all our actions and getting close to people is key.
What is the best life/career advice anyone has ever given you?
My Obs/Gyn teacher, when he told me that as a physician, practicing public health is the most impactful to improve the population health.
Can you recommend one easy, daily self-health practice that can help people get through the day?
When I wake up in the morning, I say to myself: I am alive, I took no pill to wake up! it is then for a purpose. Let us look for it today and do what we can.
Is there anything else you’d like the public to know about how it feels to be a health practitioner in the middle of a global pandemic?
It is hard to be honest but also rewarding because we are an important piece of the chain to overcome this pandemic. I do not take it lightly.
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