Completed Project Report September 14th 2009
Ibwanzi Health Dispensary
On September 14th, 2009 the village of Ibwanzi had a celebration that included the District Commissioner, the Chairman of Mufindi district, the Ward Executive officers for the Ward’s of Ihanu, Mdabulo, and Luhunga, and other health care officials from the district level. There was a Disk Jockey from a radio station in Iringa town (the region’s capital) and arrangements were made by members of the village to welcome all of these special guests, who to a chorus of Secondary School Students from Ihanu Secondary, and multiple performances from Ibwanzi Primary students. There was also a traditional Uhehe performance from some of the elders of the village, who gave a performance expressing great appreciation. All of this was done to express gratitude to Foxes’ Community and Wildlife Conservation trust (FCWCT) the NGO responsible for building a top quality in-patient addition to the village Health Dispensary. This will eventually mean more staff, better service, and an upgrade from a Health Dispensary, to a Health Clinic. It was a very humbling experience for all members of FCWCT, and it was a special day for everyone.
For over 15 years there has been a Dispensary in the village of Ibwanzi. In 2001 the government re-built the facility after the poor-kept facility suffered some fire damage. This facility was of good quality, but since then there has been very little staff (never more than one or two nurses) and very little resources to make the facility a top quality health care provider. Many villagers for example, would travel elsewhere to get health services since the facility was ill-equipped to serve them. Most disheartening of all, is that due to its geographical location, and how isolated the village is (over 70kms from the closest town) this facility was overwhelmed trying to serve a potential patient population that may be up to 20,000 people- which includes 8 villages, and some nearby tea and forestry plantations.
Starting over 3 years ago, FCWCT started to contribute to this facility to give the people of Ibwanzi village a health care service they deserved. The facility started to get resources that helped it become a better health care provider, as donated Hospital equipment and resources were sent over via container from our sister charity, both in the UK (Orphans in the Wild), and in Canada (African Book Box Society). At the beginning of January 2009, Dr. Leena Pasamen (volunteer with FCWCT) started routine visits to the facility offering her much needed specialize as a Pediatrician. Dr. Pasanen has been named one of the World Medical Association’s 64 most compassionate doctors in the world and, in August of 2009, she received the award as ‘Best Finn living outside of Finland,’ an award previously won by some of Finland’s most well-known citizens worldwide. Her contribution to the facility in Ibwanzi is immeasurable, and helps to give the village and surrounding area a quality health service they had been previously denied.
With donations from the US, via our sister charity there (Mufindi Orphans Inc.) and the UK (Orphans in the Wild) we started plans to build an in-patient service that, upon its completion would warrant more staff from the government, thus increasing the quality of overall health care at the facility.
This project would enable the facility to have up to 30 in-patients at one time, as it included 10 wards: one 6-bed children’s ward, six 2-bed women’s wards, and three 4-bed men’s wards. Also, the project would install indoor toilets, and four showers for patients’ use. The facility continues to benefit from resources sent out from Orphans in the Wild, as containers from the UK are sent out on an annual basis now.
The facility also has running water for the first time, which is of critical importance at a health facility. The water system at the facility includes guttering of the entire Children’s, Women’s and Men’s wards, and piping leading into a giant in-ground tank that is 15 feet wide in diameter, and 15 feet deep. The water tank is connected to a water pump that brings the water to a 2000 liter water tank that is placed at roof level that gives the showers, basins, and toilets the pressure used when the water is running. All of this again was made possible through donations to FCWCT.
Recent Developments / Future Involvement:
One of the most important benefits from ‘upgrading’ the facility from a Dispensary to a Health Center, will be the facility’s new found capability to test and counsel people living with HIV. This will occur as the government sends more staff and more qualified Health Care Providers. Within Iringa Region, Mufindi District has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and Iringa Region has the highest prevalence of any Region in all of Tanzania.* As Tanzania is one of the world’s most affected countries,** this makes our area, without exaggeration, one of the most hardest hit areas in the entire world in regards to HIV prevalence.
Already, one of the nurses (working through the government) has returned from a seminar with the learned requirements to now test people for HIV/AIDS. The surrounding 3 wards of Ihanu, Mdabulo, and Luhunga, and beyond (well over 40,000 people, and a radius of over 40km) had previously only one place to be tested, and therefore many people were unable to get to available testing. With this advancement, there should be more people coming to be tested, and in fact a tangible increase to the effectiveness of the grassroots movement that is happening now as more people are tested and more people are helping others with awareness and prevention education.
In a most recent development, a grant has been proposed to Solar Aid (a UK based organization with office in Dar es Salaam). As FCWCT has arranged in the past with Solar Aid for solar panels to be installed in two local schools, we hope that this connection will continue to be fortuitous for our community, and Solar panels may bring electricity to the facility by the end of next year (2010).