January 8th

January 8th 

“How do I tell you what you do not know, what you have not seen”

  • a quote from To My Husband by an unknown medical author. 

I think this applies to our work out here but we will try to explain our day. 

Dan has been in the operating theatre. The day started with correcting some contractures in CP children. The last case was complex and long fixing a maligned fracture some time after it occurred. Unfortunately, many fractures are treated late in Tanzania. Dan felt things were well organized and the trainees were keen to learn. 


Brittany feels she learned a lot today in theaters. She felt she got a lot of teaching from our doctors and local Tanzanian doctors. Kim felt welcome and comfortable asking questions in the operating room.

Jenny did some teaching today on ECG interpretation. Of course the ECG machine is broken…but we are working on this! The teaching was well received by the enthusiastic local team. They juniors then did very well interpreting a patients ECG from a local hospital. She then shadowed a patient through their journey. Opening a file (payment), seeing the doctor, bloods chest X-ray, USS (payment), excision of lesion (payment), antibiotics (payment). This was in stark contrast to the NHS and she wonders how many people truly appreciate the healthcare we have in the UK and the US. 

Shannon went on outreach home visits with Hospice Palliative. Here in Tanzania this starts when HIV is diagnosed which is very different to palliative criteria at home. The village leader decided who was to be seen today. They took food supplies with them for each patient/family. Some cases very very sad. It was evident that they felt stigmatized by their disease and they had their HIV cards hidden. Most were compliant with medications. Our team sang and prayed with patients. The Palliative outside funding has recently decreased with a subsequent decrease in staff but we are unsure why.

Amanda found it interesting today and was grateful to see inside some Tanzanian homes. She found all the patients were very grateful. Some of the patients were down in mood but this improved after singing and praying.  

Mike had a challenging day, but we were unable to obtain a light source from a nearby hospital for our endoscope. Mike was faced with equipment and procedures he dealt with 30 years ago.  He learned patience and tolerance from the patients. They were very accepting of procedures. He hopes we helped some people today. 

John had some successes and some…less than successes. It is challenging sourcing parts here. He was happy to see the relationship established with a nearby hospital when we needed to borrow some equipment. He was pleased to see some of his previous suggestions at a nearby hospital have been implemented. We are hopeful we will be able to do ECGs here soon. We had to resort to the “turn on turn off” technique with one piece of equipment.

Pat showed the group a picture of one of our students holding the hand of a scared patient prior to his surgery. A simple but significant interaction of understanding across two cultures. 

Mary seconded Mikes respect for the stoicism of the patients today. We saw some significant and saddening pathology. It was challenging to face the financial situation here where we cant offer what we would deem to be optimal therapy. 

Gayle thinks we had a great day, accomplished a lot and have left some lasting change. Let’s end on that. 

Lala salama (sleep peacefully) from all of us in Tanzania.