The old hospital beds in the St Anna’s Health Centre were worn down. To Dutch standards they would not have been allowed to be used anyway and would have been brought to the recycle facility years ago. But not so in Tanzania. There they use the old corroded and sagged beds and mattresses as long as possible, simply because there is no money to buy new ones. The beds had been in use for decades and were in dire need for replacement. We, together with Wilde Ganzen, supported the St Anna’s Health Centre in buying new ones.
In the Netherlands we take it for granted that good medical facilities are just around the corner and readily available for us all. Yet, that is not always the case. We only come to realise that when it is in danger of disappearing. Just like in 2014 when the hospital in Weert was in danger of closing down.
About two billion people around the world do not have access to health care. In South-Tanzania good medical facilities are scarse. Every year many women and babies die during the delivery. A common cause of death which can be prevented with good medical aid and maternity care. We wanted to do something about that. And not without success.
Our aid pays off!
Do you know that more and more children live to be five years of age? In 1990 worldwide 90 out of 1000 children died before the age of five. Today the number has dropped to 43. This means that child mortality has been halved over the past 25 years.
St Anna’s Health Centre
Our recent seven project were realised for St Anna’s Health Centre in Uwemba, South-Tanzania. This Health Centre is run by the Missionary Benedictine Sisters. Over the past years the Health Centre grew into a clinic with broad facilities. The Health Centre provides in the health care for the 12 surrounding villages with a total population of about 25,000 people. These inhabitants are mainly farmers with a low income. We realised the following projects here.
- Antenatal and postnatal care;
- Breastfeeding education;
- Treatment of women after a miscarriage;
- Education on healthy food;
- Prevention and treatment general health care (polyclinical and clinical);
- Education on prevention of diseases;
- Treatment of wounds;
- Circumcision by men (hygienical purposes);
- Education on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases;
- Vaccinations for tetanus, TB, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, measles;
- Mobile clinic in five surrounding villages.
St Anna’s Health Centre monthly organises five clinics on location in the surrounding villages. In these clinics they give aid at immunization, train mothers in health care and development regarding their children, inform how to prevent diseases and how to treat more common diseases. The number of clinics on location can be raised if they have more financial resources. This ensures that the health of both mother and child improves significantly.
Operating room St. Anna's Health Centre
In order to reduce maternity mortality, the St Anna’s Health Centre had to be upgraded to a clinic in which caesareans could be carried out. A requirement for that is an operating room. There was a small operating room, but this one did not meet the requirements anymore. In 2013 the first brainstorm session took place and in 2017 the operating room was officially opened and put into use.
In July 2015 the old jeep of St Anna’s Health Centre Uwemba broke down after 26 years of loyal service. It was beyond repair. That constituted a major problem for the health centre. The old jeep played a large part in lifesaving situations. The Sisters asked our help in financing a new jeep. We took up that challenge. August the 17th 2016 the jeep arrived at its destination. It was accepted with a lot of singing and dancing. The jeep is used as an ambulance and mobile clinic.
There was no echograph available in the Health Centre. With such a piece of equipment it can be determined at an early stage whether any complications at the delivery are to be expected. With echography the baby’s position and condition, and the length of the pregnancy can be examined. This is often unknown, yet important to know. In order for women to give birth in a safe environment they are advised to come to the Health Centre one month before due date and to stay there till delivery. In 2013 we provided the Health Centre with an echograph. At the same time, we invested in a training for the nurses in order for them to use the equipment correctly.
Another important part of the St Anna’s Health Centre is related to HIV/Aids. The Health Centre did not have reliable equipment to do research. Because of this people could not be adequately helped, with as result that the disease was able to spread continuously. As a foundation we made it possible that this equipment is now available in the Health Centre. In this way patients can be better examined and medication given more specifically.
Scales for babies
The old scale in St Anna’s Health Centre broke down in 2013. ‘Old” in the sense of a heavy scale with weights. Weighing a baby with such a scale takes quite a lot of time. Because it can be cold in wintertime (at night temperatures can drop to 3o C) a digital scale is a welcome asset: within a few seconds a baby’s weight is measured. This is for a baby quite pleasant. The Weert hospital ‘SJG Weert’ had two scales lying about and donated these to the Health Centre in 2013. The scales are still in use.