March 2020 Update from IHP
Charles Powell, President of IHP, U.S. writing: Many things have transpired since the last newsletter. Some very positive and some unavoidable. My greeting in Zinga was to walk into the clinic to meet Dr. Kitundu, only to find a sick, seven-day-old baby who had just arrived on his examination table. The child was as close to death as I have seen in an outpatient setting over many years. We conferred and determined a course of treatment, and the baby did improve.
We provided fluids and antibiotics and saw enough change to allow instructions to the mother next-day follow-up. She did follow up for several days, although she did not complete the recommended treatment. Had we our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit up and running, we could have closely monitored this patient for a proper course. But one always works with whatever one has available to the best advantage. Unfortunately, he may also have a blockage of the cerebral-spinal fluid from the brain to the spine, causing hydrocephalus; something we cannot address - yet. But Dr. Bon, who saw the baby in follow-up, discussed the patient with Dr. Kitundu, who in turn referred on to another center for follow-up.
We have completed some of the initial steps toward engineering our wastewater treatment system. Russ Balch, an environmental engineer, has very graciously volunteered his time and expertise in this endeavor.
There is still much to be done. Site drawings and specifications must be obtained and reviewed. Design and engineering parameters must be calculated. Nonetheless, we are on the way. Larry Roesner, another expert in this field, will be adding his input on gray water disposal. We also have a third engineer, Patrick Kalvass, who works on large scale waste disposal systems, offering his expertise and input.
Coronavirus is now affecting things here in Tanzania. There are no widespread infections; the index case arrived only a few days ago. Unlike the haphazard, uncoordinated responses we have seen in other places, Tanzania had a plan already in place. The strategy was to aggressively follow up with isolation of the index case, the known passengers who traveled with the index case, the taxi driver and his subsequent fares, and even the entire hotel staff where the patient stayed prior to reporting for testing. I am confident that the government here has a superior grasp on the seriousness and severity of the illness. In this instance, a lack of resources does not interfere with good, common sense.
We are all affected in various ways with the impact of this illness. In my particular instance, it appears as though I may be in Tanzania for an indeterminate period of time. The U.S. Department of State has recommended returning home for all citizens as soon as possible. The problem here is with massive flight cancellations and a paucity of options. I remain content. I love staying here, and while it may affect me financially, this is nothing from which I cannot recover. In some ways, I can’t help but think I am much safer here in any case.
The downside here is that as many of you may know already, COVID-19 may have implications for the entire operation here in Tanzania. While many of our supporters give regular donations, we may feel the impact of the various layoffs, shutdowns, loss of working hours, cancellations, and the like. This could impair construction efforts here in Zinga, and it is a real and tangible concern. With that in mind, please consider the following:
1. If you can afford to give extra, please do.
2. Since most of us are restricted in our ability to go out for entertainment, please considering setting those funds aside for IHP.
3. Consider working with small, intimate groups at work, at church, or online to take over some of the fundraising activities that were curtailed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
4. Brainstorm for ways to raise money, even if you yourself cannot implement it. Perhaps your idea could bear fruit from another’s efforts.
I have never directly asked for extra funds within our newsletters, but in light of the catastrophic consequences COVID-19 could produce, I am asking now, and I beg your understanding. We have cancellations by a number of medical students and residents because their schools will not allow them to travel. Although we have not seen it yet, I suspect a number of teams will also be forced to cancel their travel plans, meaning that many of the tasks and services provided by them will not get done. This leaves us with a large number of needs. If we do not have sufficient funds to continue construction, it could result in a complete halt to all or part of the current projects, and it may also result in the laying off of staff. Aside from the direct impact of COVID-19, we could have every deleterious impact on the local economy.
May the Lord guide you in all things; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Charles W. Powell, MD
Jesse Kitundu, President, IHP-JEMA-TZ writing:
It is the government policy now that all children have insurance. Now for the first time, more children are seen as compared to adults in our outpatient unit and this will generate more funds for us too. It is possible now for the parents to pay by using the NHIF card. The corridor is full of noisy children playing with toys.
We are planning to employ more part-time doctors as soon as we start the MCH (Maternal and Child Health Center) and inpatient services, in the coming months. This good news for the community around for the community of Bagamoyo to have such a facility instead of going to Dar es Salaam that is 65km (About 40 miles).
The hospital has been able to conduct a free screening for hypertension and diabetes for adults above 40 years of age this last week.
Last year we had a post-graduate student from Mayo who was surprised to see more elderly patients with hypertension and diabetes than he had expected. In order to have the base data for the community, it is necessary to conduct such a survey that will give us a picture of how wide the problem is. With the number of Covid-19 cases still raising from one case 10 days to 12 cases, there is an increasing awareness of the threat. There is one confirmed case in Arusha, one case in Zanzibar and 10 cases in Dar es Salaam. Stringent measures are being taken to prevent the spreading of the virus. It is really doubtful how effective that is going to be. We are striving to provide education to the patients attending our clinic. We are continuing with the construction of MCH and Birthing Center. The laboratory annex has been completed. Dear Friends of Mothers and Children of Zinga, we thank you for continuing your support at this particular time of uncertainty.
We welcome you to come and visit us once this problem Covid-19 subsides. Asanteni sana. (Thank you to all of you, very much.)
Dear IHP Friends and supporters, You Did It Again! You met the $15,000 Challenge Grant to help to finance the wastewater reclamation project for the birthing center complex. THANK YOU!!! Denny and I are in Overland Park, Kansas practicing “social distancing” with our house sitter, Douglin Schmidt, and our son, David West. I’ve been cooking up a storm, similar to what I’d be doing in Tanzania if we were there and guests were volunteering at The Children’s Hospital at Zinga except on a smaller scale. As Dr. Powell noted above, donations are going to be iffy during this crisis. So, if you can come up with extra spending cash without hurting your own family, please consider writing a check to: IHP-Matt West, Treasurer 8016 N Everton Ave Kansas City, MO 64152 Or Go to our website, www.ihptz,org and click on Donate Or Call Matt at 816-985-4406 Stay safe. Blessings and gratitude, Paula and Denny
Selemani Shabani, Contractor writing: To Our Wonderful Friends of the Children's and people of Tanzania. We are very grateful for your continuing help in building the Children's Hospital in Zinga/Bagamoyo. We have already started working on the roof for the (MCH-RCH) Reproductive and Child Health building. This roof will take about 3 weeks to complete.
We have hired experts (fundis) to put this roof on the building. We have all the roofing materials here on the site. We are working although it is raining.
Right now we are very busy working on this building. We will do the roof, wall smoothing, conduit pipes, water pipes, floors, and all the finishing work.
Our plan right now is to work on one project after another. This is because of the shortage of funds. When we finish the RCH, the next building will be finishing the Birthing center, NICU building, PICU and garage buildings.
Thanks be to all of you, for your donations, help, and support to this project. On behalf of the IHP, I am taking this opportunity to say Thank You!
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
IHP Building Contractor.
Paula Lofstrom Managing Director International Health Partners, US & Tz Pray, believing Act on your faith and go forward. God is always with you. Love is always the answer