The Adventures Continue

13 07 2010

Hello everyone!

Our apologies for taking this long to post again – our internet has been on the fritz lately. It has been an eventful couple of weeks since our last post and we have had the opportunity to finish up some of our medical records improvement, begin the process of administering HIV/AIDS knowledge questionnaires, and take a trip down to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

We had initially hoped to create an entirely new version of Mwika Uuwo’s patient chart. However, once we began our work here, we found that the cost of creating and maintaining a new chart would not be sustainable. In essence, the chart would only be used while we were on the ground here. Thus, we worked with the clinic to determine a better way to organize and store their current medical records. Around 15,000 – 17,000 records are on file at Mwika Uuwo and are stored in a cabinet complete with termites (this was very interesting to explain to the clinic staff. We eventually settled on describing termites as “mdudu mbao anala” (bug that eats wood)) and a dead rat. A good number of the records had been eaten in half by the termites, so we had great difficulty in the organization process. In the end, we reorganized the 15,000 – 17,000 records in order by both year and medical record number within the year. We also worked with the clinic to place poison for the bug outside the cabinet.

The other portion of the medical records organizing was creating dividers for the records. Before the dividers were in place, staff members would search for a significant amount of time for the correct medical record because records were not totally organized by year and number. A carpentry school is located in Mwika Uuwo and we provided them with dimensions of the dividers. After nailing stabilizing boards to the wooden dividers, the medical records now have labels throughout the cabinets (or will when we paint the numbers on tomorrow).

We are now beginning to administer HIV/AIDS knowledge questionnaires to expectant and new mothers at the Maternal and Child Health clinic at the dispensary. After speaking with a good number of people at KCMC, we were told that the area surrounding Moshi often holds misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and its transmission process. We have been working with the clinic to devise an appropriate questionnaire, translate the questionnaire into Kiswahili, and decide on beneficial times to administer it. On Monday, we were able to get 14 people to participate whilst they waited for their Maternal and Child Health Appointments. The information we obtain from the questionnaire will be provided to the clinic and we plan to either hold a seminar before we leave or create informational posters for the clinic that discuss the misconceptions that we uncover using our questionnaire.

For other small projects, we have repaired a steam sterilizer in the Maternal and Child Health clinic and with the help of the German students that live with our homestay family, translated the sterilizer instructions from German to English to Swahili.

In addition to our work, we had the opportunity to travel to the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches of Zanzibar two weeks ago. After the 10 ½ hour bus ride down to Dar es Salaam, we took a fast ferry (about 2 hours) over to the island of Zanzibar. We were greeted with smells of fresh fish and a booming spice market. After spending a relaxing couple of days on the beach, we took the night ferry from Zanzibar back to Dar es Salaam. To say this was an experience would be an understatement. The ferry was absolutely packed with people trying to get back to the mainland by early morning. I would say that we had about 2 or 3 square feet of space for the 10 ½ hour overnight ferry trip on the outside deck of the boat. While it is not an experience I would seek to repeat, it was definitely interesting. Being in such close quarters, we talked to a good number of Tanzanians (well, as best we can “talk” with our improving Swahili) until the wee hours of the morning.

As of tomorrow, we only have three weeks remaining here in Tanzania. I cannot believe how fast time has flown by. We have been able to live a bit of the Tanzanian life in Mwika Uuwo and it will certainly be a shame to leave the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro and the banana forest surrounding us, not to mention all of the wonderful friends we have met. But, that said, we are very excited about continuing our HIV/AIDS questionnaires and solidifying the new medical records keeping system.


– Austin Mattox




3 responses

13 07 2010
Susan Mattox

Dear Austin and Team,
Thank you for update as I have been sharing your challenges of creating appropriate and effective medical record organization with a group of medical professionals that I meet with monthly at WFBMC in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We all paused to appreciate our system of care.
Susan M

17 07 2010
Patricia Bartlett

It sounds like you all are doing great work! We look forward to meeting you all in a week. When I think of the wadudu na panya, I do not long for Moshi, but then combating ants (? sifuri) in Durham, I feel wedded to the issues there. I believe that you are doing great work that actually can be sustainable. And, particularly finding and working with local “artisans” is so helpful because then they can see that they can also make a difference in their own community. Ownership is a great thing. And, the obvious love of young people, and the wish to show off the countryside and all the homeplaces is so very Tanzanian and what I loved. Thanks for all the briefings.
Trish B

25 07 2010
Kathy Holmes

Austin and team,

It sounds like the work your team is doing in invaluable. I know the challenges are great but it sounds like the rewards are equally great.
Make the best of your remaining time there. I am sure the fact that time is flying by is both good and bad. Probably just not enough hours in the day to accomplish what your team would like to do. I know this is probably frustrating for you, personally, since you are so goal oriented and want to achieve all the goals you set in life. You are a hardworking, dedicated, passionate person and our world is a better place with you in it.

God bless, safe travels.
Much love,
Kathy R. Holmes

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