June 20, 2013
Today I visited the site of the Health Dispensary that is run by the Diocese. As I walked around the premises I could hear the words of our Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz saying “This is a good news story!”
In Tanzania there are three different levels of health care available to people. There are dispensaries ““ which provide basic services, health centers ““ that provide extended services including educational programs, and hospitals ““ that are able to perform surgery and other extended health care. The Diocese of Masasi runs three dispensaries. With money received from PWRDF they are currently in the midst of upgrading one of their dispensaries to become a health centre.
Magdelena, the public health nurse, gave me a tour of the grounds. She told me that the dispensary is open Monday to Friday and sees, on average, 600 people per day. We walked through the building and she showed me the process that patients follow when they come, where they wait, where they are diagnosed, where the medicines are kept. She showed me the area where they do HIV/AIDS counseling and where they store the anti-retroviral drugs.
I’m still baffled at the thought of 600 people here in a day”¦
We then walked over to a newer building. It was built in 2009 with funds from PWRDF to focus support to maternal and child health programs. It contains a large classroom area where they hold educational programs for people who visit the centre. In the middle of the classroom there was a motorcycle parked. I asked Magdelena if she rode the motorcycle. She said yes, that it is used for outreach. I started to call her the “motorcycle-riding nurse”, clearly someone not to be messed with! We all had a good laugh.
In this new centre Magdelena showed me the room where they do family planning counseling. They teach women about their menstrual cycles and how to hold off having more children. They also distribute birth control pills, condoms and can administer depro-provera. She also showed me the cooler system they use to keep the inoculations given to newborns. The centre also has an office for an eye doctor who can perform small eye surgeries if necessary.
It was clearly a very impressive centre. Which is a good news story unto itself”¦ But the news gets better!
We moved on to seeing the rest of the property. When I arrived to the site, I noticed there were a number of construction workers working busily at the back of the grounds. Many of them were making bricks out of the deep red soil. The soil was placed into a machine that pressed the soil into bricks. There were rows and rows of bricks lined up waiting for the sun to dry them. The bricks were very impressive as they were made in a groove style so that no mortar was needed in the construction.
In the other section of the property other men were working on the construction of two buildings. One was a building for toilets, and the other was a building for a pre-natal and a post-natal wards. When finished each ward would be able to host 12 women, for a total of 24 women.
That is 24 spaces for women that will have access to pre and post natal care”¦ Women that would have had to travel for miles to access this type of health care”¦ And this is all because of PWRDF, CIDA and the support of Anglicans in Canada.
Building health centres, building hope.
The construction of the walls on these buildings had just started this week. They are hopeful that the tin roofs will be installed next week.
Then we walked over to a parcel of land a few blocks away. There I saw the foundation built for two other buildings. These will be the future sites of the homes for the health care workers. One building will be divided into two homes for nurses and the other is the house for the doctor.
Certain requirements are needed in order to upgrade from a dispensary to a health center. Having the health care team live close by is one of them. The Diocese has prepared for all the details.
This is a good news story indeed! The Diocese of Masasi, through the support of PWRDF and CIDA is able to build women’s health”¦ One brick at a time.