About Me

"I am a family physician and public health specialist, and have lived and worked in Africa, Asia and North America. I am passionate about health-care development and am a co-founder and director of Healtheon Asia.

This is a collection of my thoughts, travels and things I can't otherwise classify."
- Dr Armid Azadeh

Monday, 28 June 2004

A month in Equatorial Guinea

In 2004 I had the amazing opportunity of working in Malabo, the island capital of Equatorial Guinea. I found some photographs of my trip recently and decided to post some of my experiences and memories. I've pre-dated the post back to 2004 to maintain a timeline even though I'm actually writing this January 2012.

This was to be my first locum contract with International SOS who had only contacted me 2 weeks previously (May 2004) with the plan that I'd work in Nigeria in August sometime. It just so happened that there was an attempted coup-de-tat in Equatorial Guinea and the hired mercenaries included some South African ex-soldiers. So I was asked to urgently fly in to provide medical cover for the Marathon LNG plant there since most of the South African doctors needed to return home to get a police clearance, which can take months.

I arrived in Malabo via Zurich (I had to fly from Windhoek to Johannesburg, then to Zurich, and then back down to Malabo! Windhoek is geographically closer to Malabo than Johannesburg or Zurich). I was greeted by the immigration security and ushered to a back room, which was probably the only back room in the tiny airport. A security officer in military attire sat at a table with his back to me while I stood in the doorway surrounded by a few other guards. He proceeded to question me about why I was there, why I had visited South Africa so many times, why I had my visa granted in Paris instead of South Africa among a few other questions. He then opened up my computer and found a directory with photographs I'd taken from home and recent travels to Istanbul and Israel and then asked me who each and every person was. I approached to try point out people and had taken no more than a couple steps when he abruptly put his hand up and said I need to stay back. He never turned to me so I never saw his face through this entire interrogation. The paranoid and aggressive state of the immigration personnel was to reflected by the military and police throughout my stay.