Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Visit to Darhan City Health Unit in Northern Mongolia

I travelled up to the northern city of Darhan this morning. We left UB at about 8am for the 250km journey. Once we left UB the road was surprisingly quiet and the driver was able to do about 80kph.

It was only on the journey that I noticed for the first time that although all vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road, almost half of the cars have their steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. I would love to see some research done as to whether the high road traffic accident rate is linked to right-hand drive vehicles here. I’d be surprised if there isn't any correlation.

At Darhan we met the Director of the City Health Department. He gave us an overview of the city and also of the problems facing the area. Darhan is the third largest city in Mongolia, with a population of about 100,000 people and like elsewhere in the country the health sector is in need of more funds for equipment and buildings.

The Norwegian aid program has been very active here. They have worked with the Health department for the last ten years to train local health staff and build capacity. We visited one of their training rooms to have a look.

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In a local training room

After our briefing the Director took us on a quick tour of Darsan, including a visit to the new suspension bridge outside the city(the first suspension bridge in Mongolia!).

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View over Darhan

Although the sky was relatively clear the temperature was only about 15 degrees, well down on the temperatures of just a week ago.

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View over the New Darhan suburb

It is quite shocking how quickly the temperature has dropped during my visit. When I first arrived a forthnight ago the days were very hot. Just two weeks later and although the sky is sunny the temperature is in the low teens, almost like a fresh November day in Ireland.

The Director was kind enough to invite us to lunch in his home, where we shared in a large feed of mutton, potatoes and carrots with his wife and daughters. I presented him with a small box of chocolates (which had unfortunately started to melt in the sunshine) after which we made or way back to UB. On the way back I did some preparatory work for my final presentation, which I need to finalise tomorrow.

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