June 29, 2012
One of these days I’ll have to video tape our walk to the clinic. 15 minutes of bustling traffic, precarious street crossing (seriously, you really just have to go for it and silently pray the cars stop, usually at the last minute) and finally a dusty dirt road. Despite our best attempts, we always manage to be the dustiest people at the clinic! I have to learn how everyone else manages to keep their shoes so clean!
Another set of morning rounds, with many of yesterday’s patients being discharged today. The patients (and people here) are generally so kind. Many “Asante sana”s (thank you very much!) are said to us for “looking after” them, to which we respond with a chorus of “Asante sana!” ourselves, as we’re even more grateful they are giving us the opportunity! To that, they respond, “Karibu sana” (you are very welcome) to which the proper reply is (can you guess?) “Asante sana!” and the cycle begins again, ha ha. So great.
We did our “presentation” on tuberculosis today and it went really well!! The nurses and Dr. Baraka seem to be as eager to learn how things are done in Canada as we are to learn from them! On TB, we learned treatment/management is essentially the same, with the exception in Canada being we freak out about TB a lot more, in terms of quarantines and precautions (a few jokes about “soft” Canadians were made, haha). It is taken seriously here too as well, with the government covering the cost of TB meds for those who are diagnosed.
For the rest of the day, the med students were invited to attend the Tanzania Diabetes Association Conference at Impala Hotel. Fascinating opportunity! Since infectious diseases like HIV, malaria, typhoid and TB have historically (and currently!) gotten so much press here, what they call “non-communicable diseases” (NCDs) appear to have a lot of difficulty getting much needed funding and government support. NCDs lump together heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer. ALL of them. In one. It’s pretty much the exact opposite in Canada where the NCDs have dedicated groups for each of them, and “communicable” diseases are instead bunched together.
Nonetheless, those NCDs are the top 4 causes of mortality here in Tanzania, with malaria, HIV, typhoid only following them. (Traffic accidents come in at #9…) However, they only receive 0.9% of the health care budget!! Hence, this conference and its goal of trying to raise awareness to various stakeholders and promote advocacy on NCDs, particularly diabetes management. They certainly have some interesting solutions, including “diabetes clubs” in some of the more rural areas where patients can help support one another and raise funds together for the costs of glucose strips, etc. They also have a program training photographers to take fundoscopic pictures, so that they can later be sent to experts to screen for diabetic retinopathy. They have unique challenges as well- one of the Public Health ministers spoke about the difficulties of getting citizens to exercise since there are no sidewalks, its dangerous to run in parks, there are no gyms… so where do people do it? All in all, it was an incredible opportunity and I was really glad we were able to attend.
To be honest, that night was not overly exciting. I was exhausted and starting to worry about a possible wannabe case of TD, haha. Neha and I had both been chilly and feeling cramps and dosing ourselves with pepto bismol in the attempts to stave off anything worse. It worked- we’re both feeling much better and were wondering if it was just something we ate… when an email arrives from Andy (a member of MedOutreach 2011) warning us of the Chinese food place down the street. HA HA, totally had eaten there the last night and we all thought it was amazing! Tasted like genuine Chinese from back home! Maybe better avoided in the future…
That’s all for now. Stayed tuned for our weekend adventures! 🙂
Much love to Canada!