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Two months in Tanzania – a reflection from MedOutreach Member Tinya Lin

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tinya Lin, MEDS 2016, has been in Tanzania since June 18 as part of the MedOutreach team. Check out her reflection on the experience, including her work in local clinics and challenges they face.

Right now we are almost two months into the trip, with just one week left in Tanzania to go! The experience has been amazing. It's hard to describe in words how much you learn when you are completely embedded in the experience. I am already getting a bit nostalgic about leaving so soon.

My favourite part of the trip has been the relationships that MedOutreach has formed with the CCF (formerly known as the Children for Children's Future organization) street boys of Arusha. They are the friendliest, most supportive group of adolescents who have had a pivotal role in making the experience feel like being 'home' for us. Despite their hardships, they always find the time to help us navigate the town and their culture. I feel privileged to have had the chance to meet and be inspired by them.

One thing I have noticed about the clinics we've worked with is that they are very minimal. Equipment is very scarce and usually second hand from another country. It's not uncommon to have only one physician available to round and manage every patient at a hospital. On the other hand, it is incredible to witness the resourcefulness that comes out of these difficulties. Broken equipment is always fixed, usually by the staff who use them. Physicians serve multiple roles and flow easily between disciplines. One hospital saved on cleaning costs by having every staff member participate in a one hour scrub down of the entire ward every week.

The biggest challenge for me was the realization of our limitations in Tanzania. So many of the health problems we saw in Tanzania were systemic issues relating to poverty and limited access to health care. Many of the patients we saw in hospitals would come only once their health problems were so rampant that it impaired their ability to function in everyday activity, and by then it is often too late to completely reverse their condition. Inability to pay for medications and treatments were considered acceptable reasons for why a patient might refuse health care.

We wish the MedOutreach team a safe journey home!
Click here to read Tinya's reflection prior to leaving for Tanzania.

To learn more about MedOutreach, click here.