Zo Eoritany (Madasgascar), a UN Volunteer with WFP, attends to a "choking victim" played by UNV Programme Assistant, Romaine Sy Djibrine, during a 3-day First Aid course held in February for UN Volunteers in Chad. (Photo: Badre Bahaji/UNV, 2013)

Being prepared - UN Volunteers in Chad take First Aid training

Most UN Volunteers in Chad work in remote areas.  They welcomed the chance to take part in a three-day First Aid training course held just for them in N'djamena.

In the field, most UN Volunteers work in remote areas where health services are quite rare. In Chad, every year brings the risk of natural disaster and sadly, road accidents are part of daily life. As a result, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme set up First Aid training for UN Volunteers working in Chad. This three-day session was held in February in collaboration with the Chadian Red Cross in N’Djamena.

Abdourahman Moussa, a facilitator from the Chadian Red Cross, led the session, commanding the volunteers’ full attention. ”We created scenarios, putting them in stress situations where they had to be reactive," he explained.  "It was essential to make them face the reality.”  Reactive and proactive, the training was participatory, where everybody had to jump in at some point as the First Aid provider or the "victim". The volunteers learned how to deal with situations such as hemorrhages, respiratory distress and fractures, among others.

The volunteers were eager to participate since everyone felt affected. "In 2005, my son lost consciousness," recalled Zo Eorintany from Madagascar, a Programme Officer for WFP in Iriba.  "I felt powerless and I was living very far from the hospital. Thankfully, my son made it, but now I am learning a lot of new things here.”

For Judicaël Mbedo, from the Central African Republic, deployed to UNHCR in Goz Beida, his objectives for this training were clear. “I work in an isolated zone where there is no health facility. It is crucial to learn First Aid techniques and how to react in certain situations. I am a complete volunteer now,” he said, enthusiastically.

Health coverage remains extremely insufficient and unequally spread across the territory. The main health indicators are among the lowest in Africa, with a child under five mortality rate of 173 per 1 000 live births, and a maternal mortality rate of 1 099 per 100 000 live births.

The UN system in Chad is about to launch a Joint Programme on Health which aims to ensure basic access to health services to the whole population. The Joint Programme plans to deploy 200 to 300 UN Volunteer health professionals.

Near the end of the training, a Red Cross staff member fell. UN Volunteers reacted instinctively, all set to apply the skills they had just acquired. Although the Red Cross worker was more shaken than hurt, UN Volunteers were ready to provide her First Aid if necessary.

N'Djamena, Chad