“For the wise man, the only thing sacred is his health.”

18 06 2012

By Joy Ogunmuyiwa

June 6, 2012 3:37 pm
Mwika Uuwo, Tanzania

It doesn’t take frequent flyer miles to know that the world is a large and vast place, constantly giving us a broader perspective and at times offering us insight into our own way of life. However, despite this endless diversity, we are all bound by a single universality. We are all human, therefore physically limited by our health–good or bad, it defines us and how we live.

An open market on the road from Moshi to Mwika Uuwo


This was illustrated most vividly in our first visit to the Mwika Uuwo health dispensary where we began our orientation, shadowing one of the doctors as he met with his patients. We had just arrived in Mwika Uuwo from Moshi the evening before and were ready to begin. Morning came, and the doctor greeted his patients in, one by one, with the candor and friendliness you seem to never fail to see in a Tanzanian. Mothers would come in with their children, husbands would come in with their wives, sisters would come in with their younger brothers, and so on. As they spoke, he would briefly turn and translate what was happening, whether it was a child being diagnosed with pneumonia (as there was a surprising chill that covered us in the village) or a man suffering from malaria.

It was interesting to see the community, if only a glimpse, and how it interacted with the doctor, and in a more general sense, health. Many would come in already armed with the knowledge of what was afflicting them and some would sit with the doctor as he walked them through their next course of action. There were a few that had even been to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC – the larger hospital in Moshi, Tanzania) and just came to the doctor for a simpler explanation of what they should do, what treatments to take, or even if there was anything else they could do.

For example, a young woman came in with a pelvic inflammatory infection and had already been to KCMC. They had prescribed her a medication that she said was not working. Unfortunately, the doctor at the dispensary was not able to prescribe her anything else for the infection. However, through talking with her, he was able to conclude that she was not taking the original prescription correctly. He kindly walked her through how to take the medication and advised her to come in sometime in the near future so he could follow up with her and see if the infection had cleared.

Health education, when promoted by people such as the doctor, can be important in emphasizing the necessary skills to adopt, practice, and maintain health-enhancing behaviors within a community. This is truly a fact we must keep in mind as we begin to map the community and start our surveys.

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