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Six Months In Sudan

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A young doctor in a war-torn Village in Sudan and the difficulties he and his fellow doctors had to face.

About the Author

James Maskalyk is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Toronto, and editor of the medical journal OPEN MEDICINE. He lives in Toronto.


In 2007, physician and med school professor Maskalyk (emergency medicine, Univ. of Toronto) worked for Doctors Without Borders in the Sudanese village of Abyei. This memoir is an extension of the blogs he posted during that stint, with some of his original blog entries interspersed here. While Maskalyk's sacrifices and hard work in Sudan are surely admirable, his idiosyncratic and sometimes irritating stream-of-consciousness writing style detracts from what is otherwise an eye-opening and thought-provoking account of his challenging daily struggle to assist a Sudanese population afflicted by the dire ravages of poverty, malnutrition, war, and epidemics of contagious disease. Maskalyk's casual, impressionistic writing feels somewhat fragmented and disjointed, and the reader is left frustrated by the elusive, half-formed narrative of his immediate personal experiences before, during, and after his time in Africa. Readers seeking to better understand the causes of the Sudanese conflict might prefer Daoud Hari's The Translator. An optional choice for general readers and also suitable for medical school or hospital libraries where there is interest in international public health or Doctors Without Borders.-Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

When he signed up to do a stint with Medecins Sans FrontiEres in 2006, Maskalyk, currently assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Toronto, volunteered to go anywhere the organization wanted to send him, writing, "No wife, no kids, no house, no debt, no one waiting for me to get back." He was posted in Abyei, an oil-rich region set squarely on the demarcation between north and south Sudan, where one of the bloodiest civil wars in Africa had recently ended. In a makeshift hospital, he saw dozens of sick people, most suffering-even dying-from treatable illnesses. In his six months of service, Maskalyk oversaw a measles outbreak and treated tuberculosis patients, mothers fatally injured during childbirth and countless malnourished children. Even if Maskalyk frustrates in his apolitical stance, refusing to ask why so many are suffering and merely lamenting the fact, he provides a raw and deeply felt account of his time in Sudan. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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