A Helping Hand for Health Care in Tanzania

Country Tanzania
Dr Bruce in Tanzania

Every morning, a long line of parents with their sick children begins to form outside Maweni Hospital in Kigoma, Tanzania. Most of these children are suffering from common illnesses like malaria, diarrhea, infection and malnutrition—conditions that take many young lives in remote, rural areas with limited access to quality health care.

Maweni’s health workers do their best to examine and treat every child in the line, but they are overwhelmed and under-resourced. With a major doctor shortage in rural areas like Kigoma, nurses like Nuru Ndijuye must go beyond the call of duty: prescribing treatments, performing resuscitation and managing very sick patients without much physician support.

That’s why Cuso International is sending skilled medical volunteers like Dr. Bruce D’Souza to work alongside Nuru and her colleagues in the neonatal and pediatric wards. By sharing his knowledge, Dr. Bruce improved the nurses’ clinical skills so they could respond to children’s needs more effectively.

But the learning went both ways, as Dr. Bruce sought guidance from the nurses on how to provide care in a different culture, and in a hospital with limited supplies and space. Basic elements of care like baby formula and incubators were not available, and some medication they use has not been given to infants in North America for over 50 years.

“I was very fortunate to be surrounded by a well-rounded and hard-working team of nurses,” Dr. Bruce said. “I came to rely on them as we worked together.”

Nuru, who is the Head Nurse at Maweni, had a strong impact on Dr. Bruce. He was inspired by her excellent knowledge and clinical skills, as well as her ability to remain cool and composed in the critical situations that occur day and night in the hospital.

Because of her expertise and leadership, the hospital is making Nuru a nurse trainer so she can pass on her skills and ensure there are more qualified health workers at the hospital long term.

In his final two weeks as a volunteer, Dr. Bruce provided essential training in neonatal resuscitation to health workers in smaller clinics around Kigoma. These primary health care providers are on the frontlines of maternal and child health care and play a critical role in keeping babies alive. Many mothers who can’t make it to Maweni Hospital rely on them to deliver their babies safely.

After training these health workers, Dr. Bruce was reminded of a principle that underlies much of Cuso International’s work: In disadvantaged communities, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way—it can make the difference between lives saved and lives lost.

Please consider donating today to help send more volunteers like Dr. Bruce where they are needed most to make a real difference.