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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Monday, 26 Sep 2011

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapThis one of Glen's enties...

I'm just finishing my first week in Tanzania, with Twyla arriving tomorow. Things are working out well so far although my luggage was 5 days late in arriving. I think everyone was getting tired of my one pair of dark slacks 5 days in a row. Washing your clothes in the sink every night is overated!!

The city is Kahama, in NW Tanzania, 250,000 people with 90% dirt roads. Most of the surrounding coutryside is dry and dusty this time of the year.

I am here with Brenda and Karen both from our area with The One Person Project along with a medical student from Germany. The medical student and I are working at the district hospital, a 150 bed hospital serving 1 million people. Most of the work is done by medical officers, with 3 years training, with only 3 MD's on staff. The medical officers are amazing however doing most of the surgery etc.

The pathology here is amazing, one ward round here in the morning and I will see more pathology then I see in a month at home - acute rheumatic fever, gunshot wound to the buttock and 3 other patients with miscellaneous beatings, spinal injury with leg paralysis, 8 year old boy run over by an ox cart, 2 cases of meningitis, 1 young woman dying from HIV complications as we stood at her bed side, several cases of suspected TB etc. You would think after 30 years I would have seen everything - something new today, a baby with 6 toes on each foot!!

My role here is ideal as I am doing more teaching. There is a clinical meeting each morning where difficult cases are discussed and I then spend the rest of the day on the wards and in the out patient department working with one of the medical officers - discussing the more difficult cases.

I going to adopt a new style in my practice at home emulating the guy I worked with today. He is a little older, a little overweight, and would slouch in his chair behind a large desk and NO chair for the patient to sit down. They would stand in front of his desk for a few minutes while he wrote a prescription or gave them whatever they needed. This was working fine until a guy came in with a problem with his rear end. The doc said something in Swahili so the guy turned around, dropped his drawers and stuck his bare ass over the front of the desk facing us. I just about lost it!! - NOT one of the highlights of my medical career!!

Don't tell Twyla, but things here are a little rustic. I am staying in a hospital guest house, cold showers, sleeping under a mosquito net with a few extra mosquitos buzzing around
while you're trying to get to sleep. The Canadian gold company Barrick developed a large gold mine close to here so a couple of better hotels were built. We often retreat there for dinner where the meal and 2 beer will be less than $6 !! - see it's not all bad.