General Director of Health
From nurse-midwife through master and Phd-studies to becoming the youngest General Director of Health in the Gambia. Hard work and steady focus pays off.
Mamady Cham, 43 years old, from Albreda Village in the Gambia.
I am a public nurse-midwife by background. Did my masters in Norway at the University of Oslo between 2001 and 2003; then returned after two years to commenced my PhD course in medicine which I completed on the 8th December 2009.
My research interest is on reproductive health and specifically on maternal health in the Gambia. My thesis focused on maternal mortality and morbidity in the Gambia with special interest on the availability and quality of maternity care services. I was financed through the Quota program scholarship for both masters and PhD.
On writing the master thesis
To start with my topic is continuation of what have been working on since I qualified as a nurse in the Gambia. Thus, topic selection was not a problem for me in the first place. Through the support of my Supervisor Professor Johanne Sundby I was able to get modest funding (NOK 5000.00) for field work which I largely financed through my monthly stipend. I did receive support in kind at home such as transportation from the Gambian ministry of health.
For my PhD field work again my supervisor helped in securing funding through the Institute of General Practice and Community medicine.
Living in Norway
It was not always easy to be studying in Norway, given that you somehow disconnected with your family and friends back home. However, it was an experience that is also with more to narrate as the positive overwhelmed the negatives. For example, the learning environment is more than conjucive, country generally peaceful and many nice people around you. These are some of the things that make my stay very memorable.
On the study environment
Studying in an international setting gives one the opportunity to learn different cultures and thus help one in life. It was amazing to come to know people from very different settings and cultural orientation.
I learned how to interact with people for positive outcomes. I also learn in Norway why the need to build bridges between people, communities, societies and cultures
The best and the most challenging experiences during the two master years
It is difficult to pinpoint the single most but I think is the fact the I passed all my exams was the best for me.
Given that you are disconnected and virtually in setting of different systems and harsh weather condition where time run faster that anywhere in the planet the most challenging was to effectively manage one's time. Too many things happens at the same time – academic, social, economic issues.
As said that I completed my PhD program the title of which was “Availability and Quality of Maternity Care services in The Gambia: Its impact on maternal fetal outcomes”.
My time as PhD candidate is different from that of my master’s period. Perhaps I experienced the country and made many friends that help me readapt easily. But the staff at the Section for Internastional Healtyh is extremely wonderful. This is fact should be cherished and recognized too.
Mamady Cham is now working in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in the Gambia, as the General Director of Health.