Arusha Project

Yullensoni Health Program
August 6, 2009, 8:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last week Emily, Chen and I traveled the 8 hour bus ride to Singida, a small city in the middle of Tanzania.  Singida is a really wondeful place, known for the large boulders interspersed throughout town, and often serve as canvases for advertisements.

Group photo at dinner

From left to right: Volunteers Emily and Chen, Doctor Makala (Head doctor at Yullensoni and Singida clinics), Dr. Makali (Executive director of New Dimensions Ministry) and Volunteer Coordinator Jessi

Our first day we went to shadow Dr. Makala at the Kiboni Dispensary in Singida. The clinic was small, with a reception and medicine dispensary, two doctors offices, a laboratory, a minor surgeries theatre, storage space, pit latrines and 4 shared rooms for patients.  The dispensary was well stocked, and followed a sliding-scale payment plan so that no one was turned away who couldn’t afford the care (a source of genuine amazement for us Americans). Most of the cases there were malaria, of the ~12 patients we saw, 10 were on quinine drips for malaria.  Malaria is a leading cause of death on the continent, and most people know the symptoms to self-medicate with redily availiable quinine tablets.  When the symptoms persist, or get worse, then they come into dispensaries for a 24 hour IV drip of quinine followed by various other antibiotics for a week or so period. We also saw other cases including severe abdominal discomfort possibly from a bacterial infection of the fallopean tubes due to unavailiable clean water for hygiene, low blood pressure due to stress after one woman lost 5 of her 6 children 7months to 1 year after they were born for unknown reasons, a male circumcision, some parasites and a case of worms.  It was a phenomenal experience in learning about tropical diseases, and what that actually looks like on the ground.

The next day, we went to Yullensoni, a really rural village located in a valley surrounded by fields and agriculture.

Dr. Makala's doctor's office in Yullensoni

Dr. Makala's doctor's office in Yullensoni

There we saw the New Dimensions Ministry clinic, with male, female and children’s wards, a small shop and kitchen area, a few doctors offices, nurses and watchmen’s rooms, a supply room, pit latrines, a reception and minor surgery room. There was no electricity nor running water, the source of water was bottled from town for us visitors, and water from a well.  New Dimensions had recently received a grant for solar panels, and has recieved another grant for a refrigerator for medicines and other neccesary supplies.

After our tour, a pair of male muslim friends came in for an HIV test.  The test is very simple and simular to a pregnancy test, a sample of blood is placed into the collecting well and bars appear on the reading screen for a control, HIV1 and HIV2.  The main problem with these type of antibody HIV tests is that they are only correct up to 3 months prior, so any action taken in the last 3 months would not be reflected on the test.  There are tests that directly measure the virus, but they are very costly and complicated, so they are not widely availiable.

After a short night in Yullensoni, we returned to Singida the next morning because one of our volunteers got a bit sick.  This gave us the opportunity to see medicine from the perspective of the patient, although the accelerated version because Dr. Makala practically flew us past any long waits with his connection with the doctors there.  After recieving some antibiotics, we continued on our way back to the Kiboni Dispensary for another few days of shadowing.

Overall the experience was incredible, it was really eye-opening for all of us and instilled a new passion and interest for medicine and infectious disease.


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