Better Healthcare for Africa was started in 2009 to assist St. Albert’s Mission
Hospital, a 140-bed hospital that serves approximately 120,000 mostly impoverished people in a rural area of northern Zimbabwe. The hospital is run by three women physicians – Dr. Elizabeth Tarira, Dr. Neela Naha, and Dr. Julia Musariri – who have dedicated their lives to serving the destitute sick.
The doctors are assisted by worthy, dedicated and resourceful nurses and a staff that includes Melania Nyamakuwa, who runs the community home-based-care program and the program to keep orphans in school. They provide care to all who require it: women with problem pregnancies; those with malaria, pneumonia, TB and AIDS-related illnesses; those with burns and broken bones. They include babies and children, teenagers and the elderly. They are people who might have traveled for days on foot or by oxcart to reach the hospital and who can pay little or nothing.
To meet the doctors and staff of St. Albert’s, see them treat patients, travel with the home-based-care team and visit the schools, is to be left with an overwhelming desire to ask: “What can I do to help?” That happened to me following my first visit of several weeks in December 2000. The desire to help has grown only stronger over the years following email exchanges with hospital director Elizabeth Tarira and four additional visits to the hospital, most recently in March 2011.
During this eleven-year period, Zimbabwe experienced economic, social and political turmoil that was catastrophic for its citizens and caused the collapse of nation’s public health system. The sick and injured turned to the nation’s mission hospitals. St. Albert’s and other mission hospitals have been overwhelmed, and even basic medical supplies were difficult to find. In 2010, all government support for the hospitals ended. No money was provided even to pay for water and electricity. This situation continues today.
Our group came together in 2009 to help St. Albert’s Mission Hospital and the people it serves weather this situation. We chose the name “Better Healthcare for Africa” because we recognized that while St. Albert’s is our main focus, the need for better healthcare extended throughout Zimbabwe and sub-Saharan Africa, and we wanted the freedom to grow as circumstances allowed.
BHA continued to help St. Albert’s in 2011 while also extending help to other worthy hospitals in Zimbabwe in partnership with other nonprofits, and a program in Botswana.
BHA helped Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF) and Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach supply and support a 40-foot container of donated medical supplies that BBF shipped to St. Albert’s Mission Hospital in the summer 2012.
BHA purchased a large refurbished autoclave for Muvonde Mission Hospital, which BBF shipped to Muvonde as part of another container shipment this autumn. Muvonde performs an impressive number of surgeries daily, including mastectomies and prostatectomies for cancer, and cataract and glaucoma surgery. They had been without a large autoclave since 1990.
Muvonde was one of five hospitals visited in early 2011. During this trip, BHA hand-carried medical supplies that were shared among these hospitals. The supplies were provided by Columbus area hospitals and by Brother’s Brother. Read about the overall visit here.
Through BBF, BHA worked with International Orthodox Christian Charities to provide five pediatric wheelchairs for St. Albert’s and for Mutemwa Leprosy and Care Centre in Zimbabwe.
Global Links Suture Program provided hundreds of sutures that BHA shipped to St. Albert’s, which shared many of them with other mission hospitals.
Through the generosity of individual donors, BHA provided several teaching models for a new midwifery training program at St. Albert’s.
BHA began accepting donations on behalf of Maipelo Trust, a charity registered in Gaborone, Botswana, that provides medical care to Zimbabwean and other migrant and refugee families with AIDS in Botswana.
This year BHA, along with clinical collaborators at Harvard Medical School and at St. Albert’s, Muvonde and St. Theresa’s mission hospitals in Zimbabwe, is working to organize and seek funding for a cervical cancer screening and education pilot program. Donations to help support this effort are needed.
We have sent 525 sutures, hand-carried, to St. Albert’s, the result of an anonymous donation.
BHA is an all-volunteer organization with minimal expenses, so 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 postal address:
Better Healthcare for Africa
P.O. Box 361132
Columbus, OH 43236-1132
and from all of us at Better Healthcare for Africa, we wish you peace, contentment and good health.