Dr Habsita Mahamat Abakar

Paul

Welcome to our latest Open Forum meeting on the CFP chat. Our guest today is DCFP for Chad, Dr Habsita Mahmat Abakar. Feel free to engage with her at any time.

Thank you for giving up your time today Habsita. Please briefly introduce yourself and tell us what motivates you to work in Rural Communities in Chad?

Mahamat

Hi there! I’m Habsita Mahamat Abakar, a medical doctor and founder of SOUPIR Association! My main focus is on girls, women and people from rural areas. What motivates me to work in enhancing the health of rural communities is the gap I see between rural and urban when it comes to healthcare services! Everyone has the right to access health and I believe we should act with equity in order to leave no one behind because including those in the villages!

(Welcomes from Kalejaiye (CFP Nigeria), Muh (DCFP Cameroon), Ando (CFP Madagascar), Mountassir (CFP Chad), Frederic (Steering Group)

Muh

Dr @Mahamat Habsy , what is the full meaning of Soupir?

Mahamat

Soupir is a French word meaning “sigh”. Our motto is “From sigh(deep and sad breath) to a solution”

Just as a quick background, Chad is a central African country with a population of about 14 million. 51% are women. Among the 14 million only 24% have access to quality healthcare services. On average there are 3.7 medical doctors and 2 nurses and midwives combined for 100,000 people. Our maternal mortality rate is the highest in the world with 856 deaths per 100,000 new births

Ando

Greetings, What are the services offered by Soupir?

Mahamat

We carry out medical outreach programs in rural areas: free medical consultations, vaccination, reworking and vitamin supplementation for kids and women. We have the menstrual hygiene management program which focuses on training girls on menstrual management in order to keep them to school(70% of girls in Chad have the bad luck of dropout of school) and we raise awareness on STDs prevention among youths

Kalejaiye

What are your challenges, risk factors mitigating against your project and how did you address them?

Mahamat

Our main challenges are: funding which common to everyone your organization; lack of support from the government; lack of visibility! Our risk factors include gender stereotypes, long distances to remote  villages and lack of volunteers. We address them through an information-education-communication program where we raise awareness on gender equality and volunteerism!

Muh

As a medical doctor, you surely have a busy schedule looking at doctor: patient ratio. How do you manage your outreach and follow up program? Do you invite those with serious pathology to your hospitals or go back to the communities to check the evolution?

Mahamat

Very good question Muh! It’s a real struggle! Working at the hospital from 7am to 4pm and from 5 to 6:30pm for the organization! I strive to give 2hours per day for my organization no matter what!

We invite those with serious problems directly to the hospital. The good thing in it is that we do our medical outreach in rural health facilities so if there’s an issue we put pressure on the ambulance to carry the patient to town, which is not so easy if we weren’t there! Some ambulance drivers can tell the patient to pay for fuel (very bad) while the patient themselves can’t afford their treatment. Regarding the gender issues, the Chadian government is striving to improve things and we are trying to make things happen. We have many laws and conventions that punish GBV acts and recently our government gave a quota of 30% for women in the government. We don’t want it to be a political promise! We need for ways to make it happen not only 30% but more than that depending on which women are ready to work for the development of the country

Muh

They say family is gold. Are you married? How do you manage family and work?

Mahamat

Family is gold! I married 3years ago and I don’t have kids yet but a very supportive husband! We train our volunteers and I think when time comes I need to delegate SOUPIR to the young generation!

Paul

The UN’s Africa SDG Index report shows Chad has major challenges regarding SDGs 3 and 5 yet predicts an improving trend for both these SDGs. Do you share this summary?

Mahamat

Absolutely Paul! We have major challenges including mismanagement, lack of patriotism and lack of motivation! But with the new generation that now is opened to the world and having different experiences we hope to change things.

Paul

Thats very positive Mahamat. What do you mean by ‘different experiences’? Also, what do you think are the main challenges facing SDG 5 in Chad?

Mahamat

I mean different sights or ways to solve problems! If you see geographically Chad is a landlocked country. We were colonized by the French and if you try to compare old French colonies and English colonies the difference is real! Young people tend now to speak French, English and Arabic, and that gives many opportunities to understand what’s happening around the world and implement back home. An example is the menstrual hygiene management program we in SOUPIR. I learned that from a Kenyan fellow!

Major challenges of SDG 5 in Chad is strong gender stereotypes, lack of will coming not only from the leaders but also the women and the society!

Paul

How do you get more young women in Chad to follow a similar path to you? How were you influenced and were able to take the journey you have taken?

Mahamat

Through mentoring, storytellings and networking! I always say to girls that I can’t force you to be a doctor but if you want to be a successful woman in whatever you doing, I can put you in touch with someone that can help you achieve this goal!

Regarding my family I can say I’m a rebel! I was always questioning things happening around me even though I was raised in this gender gap! For example giving breakfast to the sons first and they go to school before the daughters eat and follow them. We were always late with my sisters and beaten by the teacher. I asked my mum why she gives us breakfast after our brothers – she told me they are the family success while we the daughters will be married! It was a challenge for me and I decided to take it on! I’ve asked my brothers if they want to be Drs and they said it’s a long study and they can’t! I told them I’ll show you my strength as a woman and now I am a Dr….but they are supportive brothers.

Kalejaiye

How do you project manage SOUPIR activities effectively so that money is not wasted on unnecessary expenses and maximised towards the recipients?

Mahamat

Anything we buy or use must have a justification! Also we have developed rules and tips to fight against mismanagement in our organization such as no cash of the organization in our hands and every check should be signed by 2 people while the whole staff is aware!

Mountassir

Do you have any support in your association ?

Mahamat

We have support from the US. embassy in Chad, the CCU( Centre Catholique Universitaire), ASTBEF, Exxon’s Mobil and medical organizations in the US!

I’d like to tell you that SOUPIR has been selected to attend the Global Women In Management(GWIM67) at the WomenLead Institute in Washington DC and that we have been awarded the Ralph U. Stone award during the 4 week workshop!

Paul

Well done! You’re welcome to have a NAYD BLOG to share your stories. I think you have a lot to talk about…if you can find time…

Mahamat

That will be my pleasure! I’m passionate about sharing my experiences and my work!

Paul

I will need a gmail, name (eg soupir.nayd.org) and title (eg Challenges facing implementation of SDGs 3 and 5 in Chad)

Frederic

Do you have any regional plan for people who want to engage in health action. Like organizing training, or campaign or events?

Mahamat

We don’t have a regional plan yet but we conduct discussions on admissions at med schools and importantly mentoring young med students to open their eyes and minds in acting for everyone’s wellbeing not only urban people

Frederic

One of NAYD’s main focus is to create regional collaboration between our CFPs, we think it would be great if you can find a plan to move your great initiative to the continental level to help many other benefit from your rich experience. Your experience is very rich, you are doing an amazing job Mahamat. Congrats and keep it up.

Paul

I know Judy and Nelson have been discussing setting up on-line training courses, maybe this is something that you could get involved in.

Thank you for your time today and sharing your invaluable experiences @Mahamat.

Mahamat

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work! Please feel free to contact me for any questions.