Monday, July 6, 2009

Preparing to go to Tanzania

As part of my residency training, I have the fortunate opportunity to work abroad and learn more about providing healthcare in low resource areas. This September I will be going to Shirati, Tanzania to work in a district hospital for four weeks. I have started this blog to share my experiences during this trip with friends, family, co-residents, and anyone else who may be interested.

Shirati Hospital

Since I began medical school my intention has always been to serve in low-resource areas, in international settings where medical access is scarce. So I'm really looking forward to this trip, which will be my first opportunity to work internationally after medical school. I will be working and training in Tanzania under Dr. Chirangi, the Chief Medical Officer of Shirati Hospital. I initially got in contact with him through Nishant Shah, one of the fabulous recent graduates from the residency program who worked in Shirati Hospital as a 3rd year resident. Dr. Chirangi has been very warm and inviting, and welcomed me with open arms to come spend time working with him at Shirati.

In preparation for my September visit, I’ve read about healthcare needs in Tanzania and talked with Dr. Chirangi about specific needs in Shirati. I’ve also been working with one of my wonderful co-residents, Blair Thedinger, to look into ways to bring much needed medical supplies and money donations to Shirati when I make the trip. (Blair is going to Uganda next month and is doing parallel work to bring vital supplies to the hospital he'll be visiting in Tororo). I’ve contacted a non-profit called MedShare International that helps to collect donatable medical supplies in the United States and distribute them to medically underserved areas around the world. With their help, I plan on packing extra bags with me on the plane stuffed full of 100 lbs or more of the critical medical supplies that Dr. Chirangi has told me the hospital needs most.

In order to help fund acquisition and delivery of these supplies, I’m welcoming donations from anyone who is interested. You’ll see at the top of the blog a “Donate” button from PayPal, which you can use to make a safe, online donation with any major credit card. All of this money will go directly toward the delivery of critical medical supplies and purchase of vital medications for Shirati Hospital. I’m not a 501(c)(3) and so I can’t give you any tax deduction, but I can give you my assurance that all this money will be used for these direct purposes. I’ve already paid for my travel and will not be using ANY of this donated money to pay for travel expenses. Any donation, big or small, helps immensely. Estimates for reference:
$10 - Helps the hospital provide life saving vaccines to 10 children
$25 – Gets 15 pounds of critical supplies to the hospital from the US
$50 - Provides inpatient antibiotic treatment to 10 patients.

Ward at Shirati

Shirati Hospital is located in northwestern Tanzania along Lake Victoria near the Kenyan border. It is 2 hours from the closest town and 5 hours from the nearest main city. 80 percent of the population it serves lives below the UN poverty line. It began as a Mennonite mission hospital in 1935, and has grown to include a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services. The inpatient hospital has 150 beds, which are often filled to capacity and at times are shared by more than one patient. Services include general surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics (including C-sections), HIV clinics, antenatal care, basic lab and pharmacy. Some of the more common illnesses seen include malaria, HIV, TB, and diarrhea. There is an operating room and they regularly perform a wide range of general surgery procedures and C-sections. Medical supplies are always in high demand. As Dr. Chirangi explains, “…several things are missing, and we run on a shortage of supplies.” Items most needed include basic materials such as surgical sutures, needle driver, surgical scrub materials, blood pressure machines, laryngoscopes (for intubation), pain medicines and antibiotics.

I hope to update this blog during my travels with stories and (if possible) pictures. I will also send updates to any people interested in donating to let you know how the supplies have been used, and what impact your donations have made.



  2. shirati is not a district hospital.It is a church hospital.MENNONITE CHURCH OF USA hospital.It USED to have 5 doctors at one time.Now they have none!
    They dont even have basic materials what a shame.My dad used to work there.He passed away.I was born in that Hospital.

    1. You are too badly to say that while you noted you where born at Shirati.....samething is coming to you soon..we know you vey well
      Shirati now days is modern !!God bless

  3. Hi, really you people are doing the very good work for helping the poor people. Due to you people effort many people can take the advantage of the medical supplies. We all people should come together and participate in this kind of activities or help to you.!!!!!!

  4. I believe the best way is to contribute or not, rather than speaking badly of Shirati hospital. I thought that being given your life through Shirati hospital was a enough reason for you to call upon good willing people to contribute for the call

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  6. Am glad that there are a lot of medical missions like this aiming to help those who in need. Right now, the Haiti government needs all the help they can get with the major catastrophe that hit the nation. Hope we can also offer our help, guys.

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  7. Matthew thanks and get more encouraged!

    Someone has got to stop throwing that kind of a Vuvuzela's comment, if he/she don't know anything of what is happening now at that Hospital.

    If you think there is no 'Doctors of your standards'. Then stay away from them and talk about those which as of your caliber.

    Now get it right!
    1.Oh yes! the Shirati KMT Hospital has now been appointed to be a Designated District Hospital for the newly Rorya District.

    2. Shirati KMT Hospital, though continue to be supported by Friends of Shirati in the US etc, has never been a Mennonite Church of US Hospital. It is owned by the Tanzanian Mennonite Church (Kanisa La Mennonite Tanzania ), thence its alias Shirati KMT Hospital.

    3. Like most of health facilities in developing countries, this hospital has insufficient finances, materials as well as human resources. To say categorically that IT HAS NO EVEN BASIC MATERIALS isn't true.
    A lot of people's lives have been saved there through the hands of those health practitioners you want to despise here and in the circumstance of those limited resources.

    BTW, I hope one has got to think twice and appreciate also for the work of those Nurse attendants who kept the Maternity Ward clean and the Midwives, the security guards and all others who worked tirelessly to ensure one's safe delivery and security and not only the '5 special Doctors'.

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  10. I hope to update this blog during my travels with stories and (if possible) pictures.A lot of people's lives have been saved there through the hands of those health practitioners you want to despise here and in the circumstance of those limited resources.

  11. it's true that those missionhospitals were much better in "the old days". one problem is the technical situation, the maintenace and repairs.
    because it affects the service to the sick. its poor and the mechanics, when there, take it easy. and the tools are lost. and it is "too hot"or "too cold"to work. and there is no vision on maintenance, what to do first and last. things first have to stop working....a bit hopeless indeed. have visited Kilimantine, Kibara and Mugumu hospital, everywhere the same poor situation. and no improvements coming, the future mechanics learn at school only theory.
    enough. henri with a mobile workshop in tanzania.

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  13. I know this hospital,in reality is doing best under low resources,most of the peoples lives are served there,lets donate for the better doing of the hospital

  14. I have come to read with interest the information about Shirati hospital. I would like to know if you still collect donations for the hospital. How far did you succeed with the previous donations? It is almost six years now.

    Best of lucky, and let us communicate.