As partner of one of the consultants and with no experience in health care the unique opportunity arose for me to participate with a mission of Njokuti to Tanzania and as a team member to carry out various support tasks. I was able to experience much of the things I so often heard in the stories about the work of medical teams in Africa. And
I can now say – all the television pictures are correct: the long lines of patiently
waiting people, the over-crowded wards and the preterm babies that are rolled in
five’s together in a blanket and kept warm on an electric blanket. The resignation at the most horrible wounds is impressive.
At the end of January we flew via Nairobi to Tanzania. On the first day in Sumve Hospital we started early in the morning at the out-patients department. More than 60 people were sitting outside – from the very young to the very old, all patiently waiting to be seen. Through the communications of the Church they had heard that the Dutch doctors were back. Fifty eight patients were seen, their data recorded, photographs taken, diagnosis made and treatment agreed upon. The next three days the operations were carried out for e.g. club feet, X and O-legs, cleft lips, and the late consequences of burns – the curse of Africa.
The team frequently made extra strong plaster casts with beautiful Christmas tree patterns.
The hospital staff will have a tough job in getting these off !!. There were beautiful moments after the surgery in the wards when the Njokuti t-shirts were handed out. We also distributed the cuddly toys which were collected by the operating theatre staff of the Groene Hart Hospital in Holland.
We had three days to travel from Sumve to Arusha. We chose for a route through the
Serengeti National Park, and where fortunate to see the beginning of the great migration. What a wonderful experience! In Arusha we started in the Lutheran Medical Centre ALMC, a totally different hospital than Sumve. It is a much better equipped city hospital and attracts people from all over the country. But the medical problems were identical. The first day was long day with an very large outpatient clinic. The following days the selected cases were operated upon in the Selian Hospital, the former ALMC and located just outside the city. After the operations the patients were transported to the Plaster House for their follow-up treatment. The Plaster House is a special home to accommodate the patients who come from far away. It is also a place for the follow-up treatment of the operated patients, who, for example, need a long-term plaster treatment. It belongs to the Outreach Program run by Sarah Rejman, an inspiring Australian woman, who has lived in Tanzania for many years. On the last day we visited all the patients and under loud roars once again handed out Njokuti t-shirts and
various toys and cuddles.
It was a special experience to see how differently the choice of treatment is influenced in the developing world. It is not about what all could be possible medically but far more a search for a functional final result. Treatment plans are based on this assumption. Very elementary so.
Writen by: Madeline Wolff