“If you want to improve medical conditions in a country, education is one of the most important cornerstones”, says a relaxed Akos Herzeg, sitting in the Deli, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management’s cafeteria, sipping water. From here it is just a stone’s throw to his operating theatre at Frankfurt General Hospital, where he works as a maternal-fetal specialist and fetal surgeon. The obstetrician has been studying in Frankfurt School’s MBA in International Healthcare Management programme for just over a year. Now he is planning his next project: A hike to the top of Kilimanjaro with several of his classmates and coworkers to raise awareness for maternal and fetal mortality as well as money for the Fetal Development Initiative, he is setting up in Tanzania.
At 5,895 meters above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. Its snow-capped summit is the silent witness of one of the highest maternal and fetal death rates worldwide. Despite increasing international and national efforts, the situation in Tanzania is still grave. “It can be difficult, to find efficient ways to help”, Akos explains. With the initiative, he and his team want to support the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center. It is the biggest hospital in the region and provides medical care for more than 15 million people in northern Tanzania and is involved in the education of about 1.800 medical and nursing students.
From establishing the International Consortium for Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine in 2017 to the Kilimanjaro Project it was easy to find people who wanted to take part in the challenge, the MBA student recalls. There were quite a few classmates and colleagues who were immediately drawn to the idea. Participants need to have a normal fitness level, but there is no professional climbing involved. The greatest challenge is the high altitude. “You can’t make someone go on a hike like this. But I think my MBA class was the perfect group to recruit volunteers from: my classmates all work in the health industry, so the topic is very close at heart. And they are also up for a challenge, as proven by doing an international MBA programme, while still working full time”, he laughs.
In 2017, Akos Herzeg climbed the mountain and met the people at the medical centre at the foot of the mountain. He noticed that he could actually make an impact. Standardized procedures and efficient emergency treatment of pregnant women can save lives of women and babies. “We promote efficiency, cost reduction, and sustainability”, he describes the goals of his initiative and adds “if more of the staff are trained in affordable diagnostic procedures, this indeed makes a difference. Education is key – it doesn’t make sense to provide expensive equipment that nobody can operate and that will need costly supplies every six months.” This is why Akos Herzeg and his team focus on two main aspects, equipment that is easy to use and to maintain as well as comprehensive training of doctors, midwives, and nurses. One example is ultrasound machines. They can make a huge difference for pregnant women and their babies, but it is easy to operate them and to keep them in good condition.