I would like to briefly share some of Better Healthcare for Africa’s 2012 activities and accomplishments, many of which were made possible by your donations. Most notably in 2012, we mourned the passing of Dr. Elizabeth Tarira, an extraordinary woman and the director of St. Albert’s who died 23 July of recurrent breast cancer at the hospital. Dr. Julia Musariri, who worked with Dr. Tarira for many years at St. Albert’s, is the hospital’s acting director. Since 2001, I have spent time accompanying Julia on hospital rounds; we’ve talked while visiting her herb garden; and I’ve shared many meals with her, Elizabeth, Dr. Neela Naha, and others in the group. I have come to know Julia as a dedicated, compassionate physician with courage, humor, a wide smile and an imagination well used for solving problems.
To help Julia and St. Albert’s move forward, BHA held a fundraiser between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 to purchase a refurbished anesthesia machine to replace the hospital’s outmoded machine. We needed $3,500 for the new machine, and we raised $5,885. Our sincere thanks to all who contributed to help the hospital. The additional funds will help purchase equipment needed by the hospital in 2013. We purchased the new anesthesia machine through Brother’s Brother Foundation, which will ship it by container in March.
Much of BHA’s 2012 activity involved working with collaborators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School and at St. Albert’s and Muvonde Mission Hospitals to develop a hospital-based cervical cancer prevention program that is practical and realistic for the two hospitals and their communities. We are now seeking grant funding to advance the cervical screening and education program started recently at St. Albert’s, and to initiate a similar program at Muvonde. Cervical cancer is the leading cancer killer of women in Zimbabwe and the region.
Our 2012 cervical cancer prevention efforts included:
- Identifying and emailing World Health Organization and Alliance for Cervical Cancer Prevention documents to help guide the hospitals in developing their programs, and BHA purchased bottles of nitrous oxide refrigerant for cryotherapy treatment of precancerous lesions at St. Albert’s.
- Working with the hospitals to develop a budget for the project
- Planning travel to Zimbabwe in March 2013 to visit St. Albert’s and Muvonde hospitals with collaborator Dr. Lowell Schnipper, Theodore and Evelyn Berenson Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Clinical Director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cancer Center.
- During the 2013 visit, we also plan to meet with faculty at the University of Zimbabwe and others who have experience with cervical cancer screening in Zimbabwe.
Education is one of BHA’s key missions. Each year, we receive inquiries from doctors, nurses and medical and nursing students in the U.S. and elsewhere (e.g., Spain and the U.K.) about visiting St. Albert’s. For persons with experience living and working in developing countries, BHA follows up with St. Albert’s, and, for those that work out, BHA often helps coordinate the visit. Currently, BHA is assisting three nurses who recently graduated from the Yale nursing program and who are training as nurse practitioners. The nurses have prior experience in developing countries and are planning to visit St. Albert’s for a number of weeks in 2013. The nurses are looking forward to their experience, and – with continuing medical education a challenge for healthcare providers in developing countries – the doctors, nurses and midwifery students at St. Albert’s are looking forward to learning what they can from the nurses.
Last, here are two 2012 entries on the BHA blog that you might find interesting:
- Construction of two-room houses for child-headed households by Muvonde Mission Hospital,
- Practice compassion to improve healthcare.
BHA is an all-volunteer organization with minimal expenses, so 98-99% of donations go toward improving healthcare and reducing suffering in southern Africa. Please make a donation using PayPal here on our website or by mailing a check, payable to Better Healthcare for Africa, to our address above.
We thank you for supporting our efforts to help St. Albert’s and Muvonde hospitals and for following our efforts on this blog and through our occasional emails. We are working toward an exciting and successful 2013 for BHA and the hospitals, and we hope the year brings good health and good fortune to you.
Darrell E. Ward, President