A Trip to Mandji Clinic

Friday 13 April 2012

Commonly referred to as "Manky Clinic" in the expat community.

This is literally, my worst nightmare.  I am completely and utterly terrified by this clinic and I avoid going there at all costs.  I'm not one for doctors or clinics to begin with but you combine that with West Africa and it results in a legitimate phobia.

The Mandji Clinic is our company's preferred clinic and International SOS lists it as the place to go in case of emergency.  There are 2 foreign doctors who have been in Gabon for decades in addition to African doctors .  It serves as a walk in clinic, laboratory, and hospital for expats and locals alike.  We're advised to use this clinic for all minor ailments but if anything serious happens, we are medically evacuated to the closest hospital of international standard.  (For us, that is Johannesburg which is a little troublesome as it's a 4.5 hour flight running 4 times a week from Libreville and you've heard me talk about how difficult it is to get out of Port Gentil.)

I'm sure there are far worse clinics in Gabon and Africa as this one is relatively clean but the standards are just so different from what we're used to.  I'm sure if a Canadian inspector came to evaluate Mandji, it would fail before they even left the waiting room.

The waiting room and reception desk

The Mandji Clinic has a history of admitting expats and holding them hostage.  (Ok, perhaps I'm exaggerating a tad here but they do admit people, hook them up to IVs and advise they stay 'just in case' for seemingly mild-moderate maladies in which the patient would be much more comfortable at home.)  We've visited a few of Joe's colleagues over the last couple of years and let me tell you, every time we walk out that door I say to Joe, "Whatever you do, never let them check me in to that place.  You get me on the first flight to South Africa!"

  Padded doors - I assume for those who try to escape.

Typical complaints are terribly unfriendly nursing staff, a high misdiagnosis rate, overmedication, and lack of compassion.  Personally, we haven't had any really bad experiences yet but I do avoid going unless it's absolutely necessary.  This week, with Spain just around the corner and some stomach issues, I decided to suck it up and go for the first time since last October.  Luckily, they didn't try to admit me (yet) and hopefully the results will show nothing serious.


  1. What an interesting post...thanks so much for posting!

  2. Yes - the results show that I'm perfectly healthy :)

  3. I've lived in Kenya and Ghana for a total of nine years and know of which you speak! I've had my adventures, and am happy you are okay.

  4. It used to look at lot like that here in Sri Lanka a few years ago. Then, suddenly there was a frenzy of building and up went half a dozen glitzy Indian hospitals, lots of expat Sri Lankan doctors came home from the UK, US, Aus, etc. - and voila! Instead of grubby little holes in the wall, we could visit a sterile outpatient department.

  5. Hi,

    My job is going to take me to Gabon, but after reading your posts, I'm seriously having second thoughts. I think you are in Norway now (I'm only up to April 2012), but is it really this bad? I've travelled around the world and have relatives in Senegal, so I've had experiences in West Africa. Thanks for taking the time to blog your thoughts.

    1. Hi Elisabeth - it's not THAT bad but I'm happy to answer some questions for you. Send me an email to fromtheretohereblog {at} gmail {dot} com and we'll go from there!


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