By Saara Kanula
Mawenzi Regional Hospital is a busy hospital which attends to over 300 outpatients daily and has around 300 beds in its wards but the number of patients can easily rise to almost 500. In the paediatric ward, sometimes up to four kids sleep in one bed.
Art in Tanzania is organizing donations for Mawenzi hospital in order to support its staff to continue their work supporting the people of the Kilimanjaro region in northern Tanzania.
In Mawenzi you will find all of the usual medical facilities including: paediatric, physiotherapy, gynaecological and prenatal, a HIV-unit, tuberculosis clinic, X-ray unit and laboratory. Besides the in-patients, more than 300 out-patients come to the hospital each day.
Art in Tanzania has been co-operating with Mawenzi Regional Hospital for several years. They have great opportunities for medical students to undertake internships and they are constantly looking for volunteers to share their professional skills with the hospital staff.
The staff in the hospital do their very best but have few resources and outdated equipment. As a public hospital Mawenzi offers medical care to the majority of the population in the Kilimanjaro region, especially those who can’t afford private healthcare. Lack of basic equipment puts patients at risk and makes it difficult for the doctors to do their work.
Mawenzi Regional Hospital is located in Moshi and serves a population of around 1.7 million. It was established prior to 1920 as a small military dispensary for German soldiers. In 1956 it became a hospital and has been growing ever since. Mawenzi hospital is funded by the government but since KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, a big university hospital) was opened in the 1970’s support and funds have been scarce.
Many of the hospital’s buildings are inadequate for modern medicine. There is a great need for renovation of old facilities and construction of new ones. The hospital is making efforts to find private investors to co-operate with and improve the quality of its facilities. Its management team has great plans for the future but it is desperately in need of support.
Inside the hospital compound you can see lots of small buildings surrounded by flourishing gardens. Most of the buildings are over 90 years old and in need of renovation. The wards are quite modest inside.
After walking pass different wards and through small paths you see a brand new white building which Dr Nkini (my host) points out to me. It is the new theatre building. Inside the building there are three theatres that have wash and sluice rooms, as well as facilities for the surgical staff. You can easily picture the building full of nurses and doctors, and patients waiting for surgery. However, at this point there are only empty rooms. The hospital has been waiting a long time for government funds for new surgical equipment.
Before the old theatre was closed in 2010 there were seven to twelve operations being performed daily—mainly C-sections, laparotomies and hernia repairs. Now the hospital send patients elsewhere, even for minor surgery. The Hospital’s administrators worry about loosing its specialists to the other hospitals because they are not using their surgical skills. By the end of July the new theatre building should be finished and the hospital is working to obtain new surgical equipment little by little.
Behind the new theatre there is another building under construction. Dr Nkini explains that it is to be the new maternity clinic. Building started in 2004 but was suspended in 2009 because the government couldn’t fund both the theatre and maternity clinic construction at the same time. Now it is uncertain when the building will be completed.
Dr Nkini also took me to the dental clinic. It has just been renovated and the practice is about to be shifted from the old department. The clinic is busy, attending 30 to 60 patients per day and has three specialists to take care of them. More up-to-date equipment is needed as they only have few basic equipment.
Donations from Finland and the UK
At the moment Art in Tanzania is collecting donations in Finland destined to different locations within Tanzania. If you can donate medical equipment it will be very much appreciated. Please contact Sari Vilen for a list of equipment that the hospital needs.
Also other kinds of donations are needed such as eyeglasses, school supplies, second hand computers, tools, sport equipment etc. Contact: email@example.com.
Art in Tanzania is also planning to collect donations in the UK and other countries. If you are in the UK and want to make a donation, please contact Andy McKeegan – firstname.lastname@example.org