Doctors on Safari in 2015
2014 has been a year of consolidation and planning the best way forward. We have introduced two long term projects working on healthcare in Tanzania, to our Dr’s on Safari programmes, and both will take giant steps forward in 2015.
Having met with Jo and Mark Topley early in 2014, we were introduced to the Bridge to Aid charity which has profoundly changed the standards of dental care in all its areas of operation in Tanzania (www.bridge2aid.org). Its centre of operation is in Mwanza, in the far West of Tanzania, and it has been its own excellent clinic in the city.
The main purpose of Bridge2aid is to train heath workers in rudimentary dental care and safe extractions. Great swathes of Tanzania have no single person able to offer the most basic dental care and Bridge2aid has helped enormously in improving this situation. Their programmes involve volunteer teams of dentists coming out from UK with practice nurses, and working one to one with chosen health workers in each district, over a period of ten days or so, to achieve in them a level of competence sufficient to perform basic dentistry and refer cases when necessary.
The team from Bridge2aid arrived in Saadani, staying at our Simply Saadani Camp, to assess the possibilities of stretching their programmes into new territories, far East of their current areas, on the invitation of Dr’s On Safari. Together we visited the District HQ for Pangani and it was quickly apparent that there is no single dentist over a 200km area from Pangani town on the coast to Handeni.
In June of 2015, a team of six dentists, and five dental nurses will train six, hand-picked health workers from Pangani district and train them from three centres, returning each night to stay free as guests of Tent With A View safaris, at our Simply Saadani Camp. Local people with dental care issues will be invited to be given free treatment to facilitate the training, with surgeries taking place over ten days in Mkwaja, Sakura and Nkalamo. The local hospital will be used in each case and supplemented by one of our Land Rover Suites which will become a mobile surgery in Sakura, and Nkalamo.
A second team of eleven dentists and nurses will undertake the same training, over the same period, in Kisaki village, Morogoro district, staying free at Sable Mountain Lodge as guests of Tent With A View Safaris.
The second programme we will support in 2015 is one being initiated by the US National College of Natural Medicine, under the guidance of Dr Maria Valdez. The college has been bringing students to Tanzania, among other countries, for several years, to learn about the practices of traditional doctors. Dr Valdez intends to bring a team of doctors from USA in July 2015, to work with traditional medicine practitioners and attempt to formulate a best practice plan, perhaps, leading to a first hospital incorporating both traditional and modern medical facilities.
In March 2011, we finally cemented our first relationship between the village hospitals of Kisaki (the nearest village to Sable Mountain) and a major overseas university hospital. Thanks to considerable efforts from Dr Gary Connett, we began our first round of student doctors from Southampton University in 2011. The students come to work in our community hospitals in Kisaki (Selous) & Mkwaja (Saadani) villages each year. The students live in the camp which provides a comfortable base whilst they are here and travel to the village each day. This is the first stage of a long term plan which, we hope, will soon incorporate senior medical personnel from Europe coming out to train local doctors and nurses in specialist fields, again whilst based at the camps. The relationships built between institutions will lead to increasing support with medical supplies and equipment, and the development of a long term strategy for improved public health. We anticipate a rapid increase in participating camps to provide accommodation and university hospitals to support community health over the coming years.
Some of the wonderful achievements of Dr’s on safari
We are now in our third year of this initiative and so far have achieved the following:
- We have trained and supported two local nurses particularly in the much needed area of midwifery. As a result of research over the last few years, we are focusing on midwifery as a key area which requires urgent attention. Due to a lack of facilities in Mkwaja village (Saadani), first time pregnant mothers have to travel 3 hours by bus to the town of Pangani and live there for the final 2 months of their pregnancy bringing great discomfort and financial burden to young expectant mums. Running midwifery courses in Mkwaja village and supplying the necessary equipment will allow pregnant mothers to remain at home in Mkwaja for their full term.
- The medical students have provided First Aid training to the park rangers in Saadani & Selous, local school teachers in Kisaki and Mkwaja as well as providing updated training to our own camp staff.
- Information booklets written in Kiswahili have been circulated to young mothers as well as clinics and workshops given by the medical students highlighting symptoms of common illnesses young mums may find with their babies and young children and what do do to prevent such illnesses as well as treatment.
- In March 2013 we were fortunate enough to be visited by Dr Jonathan Wong and Dr Ronnie Arulnesan who, at the time were final year medical students from The London School of Medicine & Dentistry. Jonathan devised, installed and personally trained on site the local nurses on a computer medical records system for the village of Mkwaja assisted by Ronnie. The Pangani District Chief Medical officer attended for the presentation in March. The computer system is low maintenance, long lasting and designed to leave a small energy footprint. For this we received a commendation from the Pangani District Health Authority for Jonathan’s efforts. We are extremely grateful for the time and effort Jonathan took to not only devise the system but to ensure that training was given on its usage.
For further information on the last three years of assessments and experiences, please click on the below reports from Sarah, Leo & Andy
- 2011 – Sarah
- 2012 – Leo
- 2013 – Andy
Doctors on Safari will now be moving onto a new level, thanks to the work of some of our student doctors and the information they provided.
In 2014, we will be starting a programme to bring experienced midwives from UK to train groups of nurses from the greater districts around our local communities. Full reports will appear once the programme has begun.
We are also in early discussions with Bridge2aid Dental Care, and looking to bring their outstanding work to our communities.