Here is an overview of Better Healthcare for Africa’s key activities and accomplishments for 2013, with links for more information. Please note that much of what we do is made possible by your donations.
- I am particularly pleased to report that the St. Albert’s cervical-cancer prevention screening and treatment clinic began operation August 1. In its first three months, the clinic screened 646 women, detected 20 cases of precancer and five cases of possible cancer.
The cervical-cancer prevention project involves close collaboration with Dr. Lowell Schnipper, Chief of Hematology/Oncology and Clinical Director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cancer Center, and Theodore and Evelyn Berenson Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; Dr. Julia Musariri, Director of St. Albert’s Mission Hospital; Dr. Neela Naha, Ob/Gyn at St. Albert’s, and several St. Albert’s staff, particularly Mr. Joseph Makaza, District Health Information Officer, and Mrs. Itai Nyamuranga, PCN, Counselor.
- March: Dr. Schnipper and I visited St. Albert’s Mission and Muvonde Mission Hospitals to lay groundwork for the cervical-cancer prevention project. We met with the hospitals’ doctors and staff to discuss the cervical-cancer prevention project to ensure its practicality and sustainability. In addition, Dr. Neela from St. Albert’s joined Dr. Schnipper and me to meet with officials at Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and others to ensure that the St. Albert’s program meets Ministry standards. I remained an additional week to finalize the details and budget for the community awareness component of the project with Dr. Neela and several staff.
- A consequence of the March visit: BHA and Dr. Schnipper provided funds to install internet service for the entire hospital in an effort to mitigate the isolation of the hospital and its healthcare providers due to erratic availability of online connections. This will facilitate communication related to the cervical cancer project.
- Also a consequence of the March visit: Dr. Schnipper perceived the doctor’s need for current medical information and obtained a grant subscription to UpToDate, a comprehensive online source of medical knowledge for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and epidemiology of a broad range of diseases affecting adults and children. UpToDate is evidence-based, continuously updated, and free from commercial bias. Access to UpToDate has helped the St. Albert’s doctors make and confirm diagnoses and identify treatments, and it is a source of continuing medical education.
- In partnership with Brother’s Brother Foundation: The anesthesia machine purchased in late 2012 through Brother’s Brother and shipped by Brother’s Brother, arrived earlier this year at St. Albert’s. BBF also provided four exam tables for cervical screening at BHA’s request. Two tables went to St. Albert’s and two to Muvonde Mission Hospital.
- Education: BHA facilitated and coordinated a visit to St. Albert’s in late spring by three female nurses, graduates of the Yale University nursing program who had also completed their first year of the Yale nurse practitioner program. They took three duffels of donated medical supplies and raised $1,000 in donations.
- September: Dr. Julia Musariri, director of St. Albert’s, visited the United States for the first time. During her four-week stay, I hosted her in Columbus and Dr. Lowell Schnipper hosted her in Boston. Dr. Musariri’s time in Boston included a visit to Mount Desert Island, Maine (the location of Acadia National Park) as a guest of Hester and Lowell Schnipper. In preparation for the visit, BHA provided letters of support and the three American nurse visitors helped prepare her US visa application while at St. Albert’s.
Other 2013 activities
- For Dr. Neela: BHA purchased the book, Breast and Gynecological Cancers: An integrated approach for screening and early diagnosis in developing countries, Editor: Mahesh K. Shetty, MD, FRCR, FACR, FAIUM. 2013.
- We are preparing a new website for St. Albert’s that hospital staff will help maintain.
BHA’s 2014 priorities
- Continue helping St. Albert’s meet equipment and supply needs, which include a quality microscope and camera to confirm Pap test findings by telemedicine with specialists in the USA; Mindray chemistry analyzer; ultrasound; GeneXpert to diagnose TB and rifampicin resistance; fume hood, and surge protectors to preserve equipment when electricity is restored following outages.
- Help the hospital roll out all three components of its cervical-cancer prevention project;
- Help Muvonde Mission Hospital initiate a cervical-cancer prevention clinic;
- Investigate equipping St. Albert’s for analysis of PAP smears using telemedicine;
- Bring the new St Albert’s website online, followed by a BHA website, which will be our main site for project updates and reports, and for planned cancer and HIV/AIDS educational materials.
BHA is an all-volunteer organization with minimal expenses; 95% of donations go toward improving healthcare and reducing suffering in southern Africa. Please make a donation using PayPal on our website or by mailing a check, payable to Better Healthcare for Africa, to our address above.
Thank you, and we wish you good health and contentment in 2014.