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My name is Mercy Gandu, a nurse midwife working within the Obstetric and Gynaecological Unit of Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna. I have being working with Kaduna state Ministry of Health for the past 12 years and have served with the Primary, Secondary and tertiary health facilities. I was excited to be given this opportunity to work with the Arise team, which I view as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

My secondment as an Arise researcher to Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Trust Foundation, commenced on the 6th of March to the 1st of August, 2020. My secondment was targeted towards work parkage 4, which focusses on SCD newborn screening for neuorocognitive complications, clinical care and antibiotic prophylaxis. As a midwife I was particularly interested in providing better management for pregnant women with Sickle Cell Disease.

Day one of my secondment included all the necessary formalities and inductions for the hospital and office building. The following day I proceeded to the Wooden Spoon Centre, where I shadowed Nkechi and her loving and warming team on giving genetic counselling to couples. During my visit I was taught about the history of Sickle Cell disease and its effects on the patient, family, nation and the world. The week concluded with training on building high performing teams and resolving conflicts including building better relationships with colleagues.

Shortly before the lockdown I visited the Central Middlesex Hospital at Brent where I shadowed Dr. Lola and her wonderful team of experts in the care of a patient with Thalassaemia and Haemochromatosis. I also attended their training of Covid 19.

Despite the Covid -19 lockdown, which took most of the time of my secondment, I must say I have  learnt a great deal from various virtual lectures and e-learning modules. I have completed the following e-learning modules; Good Clinical Practice [GCP], New born Screening Module 1, Blood Transfussion, Antenatal Screening, Diagnosis and Newborn Screening which prompted me to produce a Protocol for Antenatal Diagnosis and Newborn screening in Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital which is awaiting approval.

Although my time during lockdown halted most teaching aspects, I was able to observe an exchange blood transfussion on two different occassion with Sharon, Fiona and Natalie, a wonderful team I won’t forget in a hurry. I also shadowed Steph processing the bloods at GSTT Laboratory.

Reflecting on my pre-secondment preparations, I had a lot of fear and anxieties before coming, especially because I wasn’t confident with the use of internet and using the computer but thanks to Raleen I was able to improve my skills. I look forward to sharing my knowlege with colleagues back home.

Finally, I want to say a big thank you to the Arise team and my hosting and sending institution, for giving me the opportunity of my lifetime to visit the UK which I only could have dreamt of and equiping me with the knowledge to improve myself for better service. It has been a great pleasure working with you all. Thanks for all your contributions and hard work to ensure that my secondment period ran smoothly.