Abbott staff relive Tanzanian trip

Four employees from Abbott Diagnostics in Longford - Eimear McGlade, Mary McLoughlin, Brendan Kilbride and Clare Gavigan - travelled to Tanzania recently where their expertise was used to help modernise hospital laboratories and to support sustainable healthcare.
Four employees from one of the county’s biggest employers recently returned from a five week volunteering expedition to Tanzania.

Four employees from one of the county’s biggest employers recently returned from a five week volunteering expedition to Tanzania.

The quartet, Kenneth Gilsenan, Eimear McGlade, Brendan Kilbride and Karen Whitlow, jetted out to the East African country as part of a training and mentoring project.

During their five week stay, the group tutored local laboratory teams in a bid to improve a health system devoid of investment and efficiency.

“I helped to build the confidence level of staff,” said Longford staff member and PhD holder, Kenneth Gilsenan. “Now they can speak up and inform management when they need improvements.”

The 33-year-old has been a permanent fixture at the health giant’s Longford based headquarters for the past seven years.

Together, he and his fellow Longford colleagues were joined on the trio by workers from Abbott’s sister site in Sligo.

2Possibly the most enduring impact was that I identified and tutored someone to be the IT system trainer after I left, ensuring that those people who are less confident with IT will continue to have a support system into the future,” he said this week.

“This was the most fantastic and rewarding experience of my life and I would recommend it to anyone. I had a quote translated to Swahili and mounted in the Lab before I left, which I felt was particularly appropriate– it reads “Coming together is beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success.”

Like many countries in Africa, Tanzania faces significant challenges in providing quality health care for its people including a lack of resources, poor infrastructure and just one doctor for every 100,000 people.

For more than a decade, Abbott and the company’s philantropic foundation, named simply the Abbott Fund, have worked closely with Tanzanian government officials to find targeted, long-lasting solutions to the country’s healthcare woes.

One of those involved in recent years was 31-year-old project manager Eimear McGlade. She said the opportunity to return to a country she last visited in 2011 was simply too good to turn down.

“It was great to go back and build on my previous experience,” she enthused.

“The lab employees are all fresh out of college.

“The great thing about having such a young group was that they were very eager and keen.”