Key 2022 Accomplishments

2022 began at St. Albert’s Mission Hospital with late rains — just drizzles here and there — predicting a dry year.  “Covid cases are on the rise, and whole families are quarantined in their homes. We are facing a rather bleak tomorrow,” wrote Dr. Julia Musariri, Medical Superintendent at St. Albert’s Mission Hospital. During the year, the hospital continued to struggle with electrical outages that sometimes were weeks long. Inflation meant rising prices for bread, fertilizer and other essential commodities. “The health system as a whole is almost on its knees,” Dr. Musariri wrote in July. As a board member of the Zimbabwe National AIDS Council, she attended the International AIDS Conference in Montreal Canada. BHA used your donations to assist St. Albert’s and Karanda mission hospitals in several important ways this year.

Cervical Screening and Cancer Prevention

Since inception in 2013, Dr. Lowell Schnipper’s grant-supported cervical screening project has screened 100 to 200 women per month at St. Albert’s hospital and its outside clinics — nearly 14,700 women as of July 31, 2022. The women were screened using a method called Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Camera, or VIAC. The sessions include clinical breast exams by trained nurses. In under-resourced countries, clinical breast exam can catch breast cancer earlier, which can mean longer periods of remission and, in some cases, long-term disease-free survival. In addition, St. Albert’s VIAC nurses have trained nurses from other rural hospitals to assure uniform high standards for the procedure.

As of July 31, 2022 approximately 167 established invasive cervical cancers were proven by biopsy, and many referred for hysterectomy and possible cure. Some cases presented at a sufficiently late stage that they returned home receiving no cancer specific treatment.

At Karanda, data gathered by the screening program indicates that for every 1,000 women screened, the program will prevent invasive cervical cancer in 35 women through successful treatment of their precancerous cervical lesions. In addition, the program diagnoses invasive cancers earlier, which can improve the chances of a cure.

Container of medical equipment and supplies

Thanks to donors to BHA in support of Dr. Schnipper’s cancer-prevention work, and to BHA donors, and by working with SOS Help and Hope, BHA shipped another 40-foot container of medical supplies and equipment for St. Albert’s and Karanda mission hospitals.

The items included three desperately needed heavy-duty washing machines and a dryer, an anesthesia machine and supplies, ventilator, oxygen tanks, autoclave, refrigerator, oxygen concentrators, catheters, syringes, personal protective equipment (masks, gowns, face shields), sterile drapes, diabetic treatment supplies, dressings and bandages, wheelchairs and crutches, orthopedic equipment, laboratory equipment, a medical cabinet and other furniture, an infant incubator and light sources.

The expenses involved in sending the container included cost of the medical supplies and equipment ($9,500), transoceanic shipping, port fees, import fees, overland transport from the port in Beira, Mozambique, to St. Albert’s hospital, and the rental of a crane for unloading the container. Total cost: $32,677.

The container arrived in early January 2023.

X-ray Department upgrades

In March, the Radiation Authority of Zimbabwe inspected St. Albert’s hospital X-ray Department. They identified several improvements the hospital had to make and closed the unit until the renovations were completed. The improvements included installing two steel doors on rails, a lead door and warning lights.

“Patients with broken bones had to go elsewhere for their X-rays, or we had to repair breaks anatomically,” Dr. Musariri said.

BHA quickly sent $4,769, the amount the hospital needed to make the renovations. The unit reopened in May.

Hunger and assistance for the St. Albert’s Farm Project

Hunger was an acute problem in 2022. “The situation is desperate right now in the villages,” Dr. Musariri said in March. “We are all worried that most of us are faced with  hunger. The hospital is searching for maize to feed the patients. We have used last season’s almost bumper harvest for the  patients and for the needy.

“Now, even when the needy come, we feel we cannot part with any maize meal, which is the staple food, because the fields are not promising anything near to sufficient. Mothers with babies on their backs come asking for food handouts because their fields are off.” 

BHA provided St. Albert’s with $2,500 for the purchase of items used to stock food hampers, which the hospital distributes to the most vulnerable. The items include maize (corn) meal, soy beans, peanut butter, sugar, salt, beans, rice, cooking oil and a bar of soap. The hampers can help a family of five stave off hunger for 10 to 14 days.

In addition, a donor to BHA provided $6,000 for the hospital to purchase seed, fertilizer and herbicides for the 2022-23 growing season. In appreciation, Dr. Musariri wrote, “This will go a long way to cushion the hospital against the adverse economic melt-down.”

In fact, the donation, plus good rains and weather, and good work by the workers caring for the hospital’s farm, resulted in a bumper harvest in early 2023, as seen in these photos.


A Christmas celebration for children and expectant mothers

BHA board members wired $1,000 to bring a little cheer support the hospital’s Christmas celebration for mission’s children and the pregnant women staying at the Mother’s Waiting home, which is a hospital facility that enables women with a high-risk pregnancy to remain close to the hospital until delivery.

As part of the Christmas celebration, the pregnant women gathered to sing, repeating the refrain, “The Lord has given us this chance again to give him praise and worship.” As they sing, the women hold a token for baby yet to arrive, Dr. Musariri noted. “Thank you for making a difference in their lives. They will remember this Christmas party and refer to it as they chat.”