Christy Salomão Silva was born in Cape Verde and studied Physiotherapy at the University of São Paulo, in Brazil. At Lisbon’s Estefânia Hospital, she attended a three-month internship for healthcare professionals supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. An enriching training experience that she is now taking back the Agostinho Neto Hospital, in the city of Praia, the Cape Verde capital.
Christy Silva is aged 27 and applied for the internship following encouragement from her colleagues in accordance with the cooperation missions existing between these two hospital institutions, meeting and working with neuro-pediatricians at Estefânia Hospital twice per year.
Aged 11, she went off to Brazil and completed her studies there before returning to her country of birth to work at the Agostinho Neto Hospital, where she has been since 2011. She works in various departments: medicine, pediatrics, and the adult and pediatric emergency wards, on a two-month rotational basis.
In the Agostinho Neto Hospital, there are few opportunities for preventive interventions said Christy Silva: “There are many premature births but few children with cerebral paralysis come into hospital right at the beginning. When they reach us, there are already deformations and set frameworks. We have to prevent the consequences and send them to orthopedists to fit artificial limbs. We only intervene in respiratory terms, not on motor issues.” In Estefânia, she saw how work can be done in the area of early intervention in neonatal services, which is a major advantage to the physiotherapist. “What is most important that I learned here at Estefânia was intervention work in terms of burns, spinal bifida appointments, interventions in the operating theatre with recourse to splints and in day care with silicone. Here, there is all the equipment necessary.”
Despite the lack of local resources, Christy hopes to arrive in Cape Verde and contribute towards improving the service she works in. “My colleagues feel the same needs. I’m going to share the techniques with them and try and implement them even with lower cost equipment and materials to raise the standard of treatment of our children.” One example is the application of gypsum plaster, a material no longer in usage at Estefânia Hospital following its replacement by a synthetic plaster, lighter and easier to work with. However, the plasters/bandages are techniques commonly applied and this was one area in which Christy took a course during the course of her internship.
Irrespective of the difficulties, Christy Silva believes that having had this experience in a hospital specifically focused on pediatrics will enable her to improve her performance as a professional and provide a better service to her country.