Back from the field – Tanzania

BACK FROM THE FIELD – In these few lines, Caroline Brugger, volunteer in Tanzania, back in Switzerland because of the Covid-19 health crisis, writes with her own words on the weeks that preceded her return to Switzerland and the emergencies that activated her. Currently in quarantine, we would like to thank her for her work, her commitment and her testimony!

The frenzy that preceded the government’s containment measures in Tanzania is still very much on my mind.

After working in February on order preparation, we started this medicine chase in early March in Dar-es-Salam with Samwel, one of the pharmacy managers. 

We had to compare the prices of the missing items and order them from many suppliers. This task accomplished, it took us 2 days to cover the 560 km to the hospital. Unfortunately, due to bad weather that destroyed bridges and part of the road to Lugala, the boxes containing the medicines and medical equipment did not arrive until a week later. How did we do it, you are going to tell me? By repatriation by boat, a whole program and not the least! Indeed, in rural areas, the work often requires adaptation in order to cope with new situations, which I often didn’t understand myself.

Back in Lugala, we joined forces with the goal of preparing the hospital for a possible case of COVID-19, initially on our own initiative and then, following the preparation list received by the government:

  • Manufacture of hydroalcoholic hand disinfectant and other alcohol or chlorine-based disinfectants for surfaces.
  • Training on the rules of disinfectant manufacturing for Happy, head of the pharmacy, and Helena, head of infusion manufacturing.
  • Arrangement of two rooms for suspected cases and cases testing positive for COVID-19 in buildings close to the hospital to avoid a risk of contamination to patients: spaced beds, separate toilets, masks and goggles for the nursing staff, disinfectant, soap, running water, oxygen machine, …
  • Training of the nursing staff in charge of the new COVID-19 unit
  • Manufacture of protective masks by surrounding seamstresses
  • Restriction of hospital visits (only 1 visitor per patient per day bringing food)
  • Installation of a hand washing point for all persons coming and going out of the hospital.

It is thus with a heavy heart but full of memories that I left Lugala at the end of March. Of course, I remain in contact with the nursing staff, and especially with the people in charge of the pharmacy. Communication, as well as remote support, is important! Important, yes, especially to show them that we are not leaving them alone in this situation!

So, in the face of this global health crisis, let’s show solidarity with each other and act in the best possible way, so that everyone will have a chance.