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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Monday, 18 Feb 2008

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapHabari za jioni

This morning MJ and I had an appointment to go for a tour of the Kahama District Hospital. Wendy decided to stay home and work on an assignment that her professor was hassling her about. We walked to the end of the lane and were met by a group of bike taxis. We hoped on a couple and asked them to take us to the District Council Office where we were meeting Nesphory. I guess my Kiswahili wasnít good enough because we ended up at the hospital. We asked directions again in Kiswahili and somehow arrived at the right place. After meeting a few more people at the District office, Nesphory, Mj and I jumped back on the taxis and rode over to the hospital.
This government funded 200 bed hospital services 750,000 people with 13 doctors and a total nursing staff of 79. There are also some dispensaries and clinics out in the community.
We met with a few of the staff and got an overview of the services, conditions, staffing levels and problems they are facing. We toured the whole mat/gyn area, pediatric ward, and the TB and HIV/AIDS clinics. I donít even know where to start in telling you what the conditions were like at that hospital. We walked into the delivery room which was maybe 14íx14í. There were four beds crammed along one wall and two beside them on the other. Only one of the beds was empty; and it was covered with a stained rubber sheet with stirrups at one end. I guess you get moved to this one for the actual birth. There were five women in very active stages of labour and a few nurses standing around. We were all crowded in this small room and it was very hot. I looked up at the stained dirty ceiling and asked about the inactive fan which they told me didnít work. The unsanitary conditions were worse than I expected. We were told that there was virtually no equipment available to use in this room, not even an incubator!
The room beside this housed the women that were in various stages of labour, some of them were two to a bed but we were told that sometimes it gets up to three. There were probably 20 beds in that ward. Women here normally give birth at home, but these were the cases that involved complications.
The pediatric ward was about the same size as the labour area but looked even more crowded. Parents bring their children here from long distances and then stay with them. The majority of the children are admitted here for malaria, anaemia and respiratory diseases.
There was a crowd of people in an area outside of another building. We werenít allowed to take any pictures of the people here because they were HIV patients. They walk here from as far away as 20 km and then sit on the ground all day waiting to get into the waiting area of the clinic. The hospital has no money to buy food for them and they donít even get much water. A lot of them donít get seen so they have to wait overnight and then wait again the next day. There were children waiting with their parent(s) and a lot of these people are quite sick. It was really a heartbreaking sight!
In order for people to receive their ARVís each week they need to get a CD4 count done. The machine that does this is currently not working so they have to send the samples to another hospital in Shinyanga. Until the machine is fixed, they are only able to test 30 people per day instead of the usual 80. This means that many people have had their ARV treatment halted. No one knows when they will be able to get it fixed. The hospital actually need three of these machines in order to keep up and now doesnít even have one! Virtually every department that we visited needs everything you can imagine, even the offices were without proper supplies.
After this very sobering visit to the hospital, we headed via bike taxi, back to the Rest House to sanitize. I was also reminded that I had forgot to take my malaria drugs on Saturday so wanted to get that asap.
We headed to Isegehe to meet the last four foster kids. I met my new one and also your little girl Rena and Jerry. Her name is Elizabeth. We interviewed and took pictures of all four and will be looking for Sponsor families for two of them. My little guy, Mabula lost his mother to HIV three years ago and now his father is in the final stages of dying. He and his two siblings live with Grandma and Grandpa. We are pretty sure his brother would be HIV if he were to be tested as his mom died when he was only one. I donít know about the other two. His Aunt Tatu and her three children also live in this single dwelling. He husband also passed away recently from AIDS. This means that she and maybe some of her children are also infected. This is a sad, but common story here in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our driver from Kigali has arrived and is booked in to a room in town. He will be here to pick us up at 6:00am. We were remarking that it will be great to get back to ďcivilizationĒ and the great food at Chez Lando.

Usiku mwema