Dr. Buowari talks to Lifebox on safe anesthesia in Nigeria and her work responding to COVID-19.
Dr. Dabota Yvonne Buowari is an anesthesiologist and emergency physician in Nigeria. Dr. Buowari works at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Rivers State in southern Nigeria and has been a long-term facilitator to Lifebox in the distribution of pulse oximeters in Nigeria, including 50 oximeters for COVID-19 response.
I was introduced to anesthesia by a senior colleague at the department of anesthesia of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. He guided and mentored me in my career path. Like many low-resource countries, there is a shortage of healthcare professionals in Nigeria, including anesthesia providers. Most of our anesthesiologists are located in the urban areas.
My mantra in my work is “safety always”. You have to check the equipment, check the drug dosages, monitor the patient, and monitor the equipment.
My proudest achievement in my work is seeing smiles on the faces of women having their babies without pain. In Nigeria, cesarean section is still not widely accepted and sometimes seen as a woman not being strong enough to bring forth a child. Sometimes she can even face discrimination in her community. It gives me pride to see women now making decisions for themselves when it comes to operative delivery.
I have partnered with Lifebox on the distribution of pulse oximeters in Nigeria, the first time on oximeters for Bonny General Hospital in Rivers State. Pulse oximeters are necessary for the continuous monitoring of patients during anesthesia and are only available in short supply in Nigeria. Anesthesia providers also carry their personal pulse oximeters along if they are invited to provide anesthesia in the private hospitals, so we take Lifebox pulse oximeters along with us to ensure these patients are also monitored.
In 2020, I supported the distribution of 50 Lifebox pulse oximeters donated to the hospitals in Rivers and Bayelsa States in southern Nigeria for COVID-19 response. There is a shortage of medical equipment in Nigeria so these donations were important to help us provide COVID-19 care. In a COVID-19 patient, the respiratory system of the patient may be compromised. Pulse oximeters help us to screen and assess the oxygen saturation of patients.
I am obviously concerned about contracting COVID-19 while at work, particularly when administering general anesthesia when the larynx is visualized. We have a shortage of personal protective equipment with limited face masks which increases the risk.
Vaccine roll out has commenced in Nigeria. And while there is a lot of vaccine fear, my hope lies in the vaccines.
For more information on Lifebox’s COVID-19 response see here.