Our medical mission trip to Tanzania had us based out of the port city of Dar es Salaam and the gateway to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the city of Arusha, and we traveled each day to rural parts of the country to provide medical and dental care to the people of Tanzania.
The team consisted of one dentist, two emergency medicine doctors, two nurses, a paramedic, an EMT, and three medical staff members hailing from Canada, Zambia, and the United States. Throughout our week of clinics, we also received assistance from many Tanzanian medical personnel, translators, and supporters.
Our first three days of clinic in the area around Dar es Salaam brought us more than 100 medical patients each day and a number of dental patients as well. We treated patients with malaria, fluorosis, TB, ringworm, elephantiasis, AIDS, hernias, and many other conditions. In a somewhat unusual case, we removed a roach from a patient’s ear. We also saw a patient with severe pneumonia who needed more care than we could provide in clinic, so we helped transfer her to the closest emergency room.
Education is always one of our primary objectives in clinics. Our goal is to help families and communities learn to be able to take care of their health and each other. One educational opportunity we had on this trip was to teach the family of a three-year-old with asthma how to do back percussion to help relieve his symptoms.
Right as we wrapped up clinic on our second day, we were asked to help a local doctor with a patient with a severe case of malaria. One of our doctors answered the call and hopped on the back of a motorcycle so a local resident could take him to meet with the patient.
Between moving our base from Dar es Salaam to Arusha, we got to enjoy a day of safari. We saw elephants, ostriches, warthogs, impalas, zebras, lions, giraffes, monkeys, and more in their natural habitat within one of Tanzania’s beautiful national parks.
Our last days in clinic found us near the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We worked closely with local doctors who provided tremendous help with translating and providing information on the local community. We saw many elderly patients with painful joints, hypertension, fluorosis, and osteoarthritis.
Two patients had conditions that were beyond the capabilities of our clinic so we helped transport them to the local hospital. One was a five-year-old girl with either a fractured femur or septic hip. The other was a woman with low O2 sats that we couldn’t improve with Albuterol, the best treatment we had available.
We also saw a little girl who we diagnosed with ventricular septal defect – a hole in her heart. One of our doctors will be setting up a donation site to pay for her surgery and the IMR Partner Program, which helps to finance many surgeries and other special needs we see in clinic, will likely contribute to the effort.
As clinic came to a close, we held a celebration to thank the local doctors and community volunteers and presented them with certificates of appreciation. They value the certificates and ceremonies and we were pleased to be able to show our thanks in that way.
“At the close of clinic, since this was our last day with them, we gathered with all our Tanzanian helpers to thank them for all their hard work and the warm welcoming they gave us, to give hugs and take tons of pictures, and to chow down on some food.”