Friday, October 23, 2009

One Week After Returning

Last week I got back from Tanzania. I did not have access to reliable internet during my time in Shirati, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to post on this blog as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I wanted to send an update to people who may be interested.

On behalf of the staff and patients at Shirati Hospital, I want to sincerely thank everyone who donated money for your generosity. In addition to the bags of medical supplies I brought with me, we were able to leave them with a cash donation of $1,900. The majority of this has already been used to purchase vital hospital supplies and medicines. Literally thousands of doses of life-saving medicines were purchased to fight malaria and other serious infectious diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, and typhoid fever (sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine, amodiaquine, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, metronidazole). Other supplies purchased included thousands of sterile and non-sterile gloves, infusion supplies, and much-needed lab reagents (i.e. to measure glucose, protein, etc), all of which where usually in very short supply.

Of the supplies I brought in my luggage, the items that seemed to be particularly welcome were sutures, laryngoscopes, iodine scrub (ALWAYS in short supply), and vacuums for vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery. A few of the doctors said the hospital no longer had any vacuums, and so if a woman had a prolonged second stage of labor they had very few options to help mom and baby except to do a c-section. They were very happy to have the vacuums that I brought and were eager to use them. I personally used several of these supplies myself while I was there, including a pediatric nasogastric tube to feed a severely malnourished child, and a lumbar puncture tray to do a spinal tap on a young father with HIV and meningitis. The child was incredibly sick, with an initial hematocrit of only 5%, and I honestly think he would have died without the feeds he got through that tube. The young father turned out to have cryptococcal meningitis, and, thanks in part to the diagnostic information provided from the spinal tap, he improved after several days of treatment in the hospital. I mention these patients to give you a sense of how even the most basic of medical supplies can have a very profound impact on people in an area where resources are scarce.

Thanks again to everyone who donated. The supplies and medicines purchased with your donations are sure to have a positive impact on many people.

Time permitting, I will attempt to post a few stories from the hospital in the future.