Our Partners in Africa
- St Edward’s Hospital, Dwinyama
- St Anthony-Ann’s Hospital, Donyina
- St Andrew’s Catholic Clinic, Kordiabe
- Afrikids Medical Centre, Bolgatanga
- Hand in Hand, Peace of Christ Community (PPC), Nkoranza
- St Martin’s Health Centre, Biu
- Madonna Clinic
- Kings Village, Tolon
- St Joseph’s Hospital, Jirapa
Other Units We Support:
- Amanfrom Camp Prison
- Central Prison Infirmary
- Central Women’s Prison Infirmary
- Donald Richards Memorial Health Centre, Nakwabi
- Immaculate Heart School
- Manhyia Prison
- Mother of Mercy Clinic, Wa
- Obuasi Local Prison
- Presbyterian Primary Health Centre, Salaga
- St Anthony's Health Centre, Anyinasu
- St John's Health Centre, Domeabra
- St Joseph's Health Centre, Abira
- St Mary's Clinic, Tumu
- SIERRA LEONE
- St Francis of Assisi Orphanage
- Kilema Hospital
- Kibosho Hospital
- St Camilius Health Centre, Mvimwa
- Kwediboma Health Centre
- Baraki Health Centre
- Bikira Maria Mama Wa Tumaini Health Centre, Masanga
- Rainbow Centre, Moshi
- Kibara Hospital
- Kitope Dispensary
- St Camillus Dispensary, Tomondo
- Bukwali Dispensary
- Makongoro Health Centre (AICT), Mwanza
- Sayusayu Dispensary
- Nyarambo Health Centre
Other Units We Support:
- Chekereni Dispensary
- Dr Atiman Hospital, Sumbawanga
- Kikavu Dispensary
- Kilolo Dispensary
- Kwamndolwa Health Centre
- Matai Health Centre
- Mgolole Health Centre & School, Orphanage
- Mvumi Hospital
- Mwayze Dispensary
- Namanyere Hospital
- Rosana Dispensary
- St Gemma's Health Centre, Lumuma
- St Joseph's Dispensary, Uchira
- St Joseph's Hospital, Soweto
- St Martin de Porres Orphanage
- St Mary's Dispensary, KIA
- Chikuni Mission Hospital
- Mumbezhi Rural Health Centre
- Kacema Children’s Home
- LUWI Rural Mission Hospital, Ntambu
- St Augustine Seminary and Dispensary
- St Mary’s School for the Blind
- Mulilansolo Rural Mission Hospital
- Kayambi Rural Mission Health Centre
- St Fidelis Hospital
- Mporokoso School for the Blind
Other Units We Support:
- Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO) Orphanage, Mulanje
- Ndi Moyo Palliative Care Centre
- Madisi Mission Hospital
- St John of God Hospital, Mzuzu
- St Anne’s Hospital, Chilumba
- Nkhamenya Mission Hospital
- Nzama Health Centre
- Tsangano Health Centre
- Nsipe Health Centre
- St Martin’s Health Centre
- Namulenga Health Centre
- St Joseph’s Hospital, Limbe
- Pirimiti Community Hospital
- Matiya Health Centre
- Chiringa Health Centre
- Sukasanje Health Centre
- Fistula Care Centre
- St Peter’s Hospital, Likoma Island
Other Units We Support:
- Atupele Community Hospital
- Ekwendeni Hospital
- Kaseye Community Hospital
- Katete Community Hospital
- Mlambe Hospital
- Mzambhezi Hospital
- Neno Parish Health Centre
- St Patricks Health Centre, Rumphi
Does your health unit need our support?CONTACT US NOW
St Anthony-Ann’s Hospital, Donyina
To find out more about our partners at this health unit please visit:
(Pictures sent to us via email with acknowledgment of Inter Care Medical Aid Donation, March 2020)
St Andrew’s Catholic Clinic, Kordiabe
To find updates on our partner health unit please visit:
(images taken on Inter Care’s visit in 2013)
Hand in Hand, Peace of Christ Community (PPC), Nkoranza
PCC has no goverment support and relies on funds from the Dutch organisation Hand-in-hand, so the medicines from Inter Care are vital and much appreciated.
There are 80 disabled in-patients. Many of these patients have severe mental problems and are cared for by a doctor and three health professionals and about 40 carers.
Dr Albert van Galen is the Medical Director. He told us that problems with Health Insurance and the weakness of the Cedi, were making it very difficult to fund the unit, because all care and medicines are given free of charge.
The range of medicines requested from Inter Care is small but specialised. They desperately need more drugs especially to treat epilepsy and related conditions.
All prescribing is done by a doctor. It would safe to offer a wider range of epilepsy treatments, than is normally offered to Clinics. This unit is very well run and our donations are acknowledged and appreciated. Communication is good and e-mails answered quickly. Our continued support is vital.
(Visit, August 2014)
St Martin’s Health Centre, Biu
What we saw…
The clinic has no doctor and is run by a Senior Medical Assistant, Mr Nubanue Padmore, six nurses and a pharmacy assistant. It is small but treats 1000 outpatients per month. It has 2 beds for day cases only. It has been refurbished since our last visit in 2010, and does vital work in this rural location, but it is still very basic.
They did 23 HIV tests on pregnant women last year, but have a grant to expand the testing and counselling unit this year. They also want to intensify their campaign to combat fungal infections.
The dispensary was chaotic and consisted of a bench, piled high with open packets and loose strips of tablets. Prescribing is done by Mr Padmore and some of the nurses. Without going into too much detail, the knowledge of some medicines and their uses in this unit is lacking. With some help of BNFs* , we can provide support to ensure they get the knowledge they desperately need.
We supply 10-15% of their medicines, so our contribution is important to them and greatly appreciated.
They would like more of the basic medicines such as amoxicillin, paracetamol, metronidazole and topical applications, especially to treat fungal infections and worms.
*The British National Formulary is a United Kingdom pharmaceutical reference book that contains a wide spectrum of information and advice on prescribing and pharmacology, along with specific facts and details about many medicines available on the UK National Health Service
(Visit, August 2014)
At first glance
Madonna Clinic is located a short way off the main Kumasi – Accra Road, a 45 minute drive south of Kumasi. It is a small yet well-run clinic serving around 6,000 people. There are 17 team members. These include 1 medical assistant, 1 pharmacy assistant, 14 qualified nurses and 3 competent midwives.
Madonna Clinic has close links with nearby St Anne’s Clinic which is another of Inter Care’s partner health units. Staff from both clinics co-operate ‘covering’ each other in the case of absence. This tiny facility manages to fit 10 beds into four small wards for 120-200 Inpatient cases per month. Furthermore, it holds daily Outpatient clinics serving 10-15 patients per day including maternal child health, immunisation and general medical. To sustain its services to the local population the clinic must be completely self-sufficient financially because it receives no government funding whatsoever and has no other support sources. When Inter Care last visited they proudly showed us the lab which we helped to provide. Staff can now test regularly for malaria, anaemia and perform urine analysis but the lab had run out of HIV/AIDS test strips and were waiting on more from the government.
They have difficulties with the cost of the transportation of the medicines they need so, to help them Inter Care bi-annually send consignments of basic medicines to treat a range of common conditions e.g. malaria, throat infections and intestinal worms.
Sister in Charge Sr. Mary told us in September 2018 –
“Since the arrival of the nebulizers from Inter Care in 2017, we have been able to promptly attend to all patients that had to travel few kilometres to the nearby district hospital to receive emergency. Also, patients were able to receive Salbutamol inhalers which they are able to use at home when the need arises – These inhalers are quite expensive for the average Ghanaian.
Secondly, dressing packs that were received have been able to serve deprived patients who could not afford wound care. Also wounds that were chronic has been successfully managed and patients have gained full recovery. Community members are not afraid to attend the clinic for wound care. Thank you Inter Care.”
Kings Village, Tolon
This is an account from one of our pharmaceutical partners, IHP
Kings Village in June 2019
Purpose of the visit
I had the opportunity to visit King’s Village during a planned holiday to Ghana in June 2019. I arrived in Tamale on the 17th of June to a warm welcome from Ben and Marion Owusu-Sekyere. These were the founders and original missionaries. The King’s Village is an impressive settlement of health, education and social care services. All available to many people internally and the many surrounding villages.
The original purpose of my visit was to conduct mini audits of our medicines and related sites. W wanted to see how IHP medicines were contributing to the healthcare in the King’s Village. Furthermore, we wanted to find out how we could improve our services to this community by working with other partners. It however became clear very quickly on meeting Ben and Marion that they wanted to share a strategic vision of the services they were providing and expanding on. This enabled IHP and other partners like Inter Care who we work with, to support and target funding, products (medicines and medical equipment) appropriately. `
About King’s’ Village.
The King’s Village is a beautiful settlement of medical and educational facilities set in the beautiful garden of about 50 acres of land. The founders started from humble beginnings starting with a couple of sheltered buildings. This has now grown and expanded to a massive settlement of many educational, health and public health services spread around the beautiful surroundings of vegetation to serve many of the surrounding villages in Tamale. Please visit the website for details about the history of King’s Village to compliment this report. https://www.theKing’sVillage.org/
I was honoured to be given a tour of much of the village. They explained the history and development of the village over the years and their vision to provide more needed services in the future.
The new up and coming hospital
The first stop was to visit the building site of the new extended hospital. Firstly, their plan was to build a new hospital which would enable them to expand their maternity and children’s service, delivery suites wards, operating theatres and build a much needed a unit for men’s health. Secondly, their ambition is to provide a state-of-the-art hospital that would provide the needs of the community in this part of Tamale which relied heavily on the King’s Village for medical care. Thirdly, their current facilities were already catering for 70-100 births per month and it was estimated that the new hospital would be able to operate at about 50% above that capacity in the future, with extra service possible through an increased number of inpatient beds.
King’s Village currently provides all surgeries except orthopedic surgery.
They made a passionate request for anesthetic machines, medical equipment, operating tools and medication to support their theatre services. They also needed scanners (old and new) for their obstetrics unit.
I met a mother with her little daughter of 3 years…
The daughter was called Rhianna. They were from one of the surrounding villages who expressed delight in the services that were provided at the King’s Village. Without prompting she mention the fact that the medicine she received from King’s Village throughout her pregnancy and her daughter’s birth were of high and good value and could be trusted. That made me smile.
The dispensary, medicines and healthcare programmes.
I visited the dispensary and spent quality time with the four-member team working there. They had a simple range of medicines covering drugs for hypertension, infectious diseases, communicable diseases, respiratory tract diseases such as asthma. They also had some syrups and inhalers for different conditions and the pharmacist pointed out some of the products that they had received from IHP. It was heart- warming to see some of our products being dispensed to patients.
Mr Frank Kumi, the pharmacist explained how they receive medicines from different donors but medicines from IHP were well sort for, because they came with a higher than average quality. This was because of long expiry dates of the meds* and the fact that they received medicines that their services needed not just any general medicine some of which may never be used. To emphasize this point, he showed me a huge pile of donations waiting to be destroyed because they did not meet their needs. It was very clear that our medicines played a significant part in supporting both patients and the King’s Village with their services.
There was a clear plea for more of our medicines because of the high quality. Also the fact that they enabled to provide the right standard of treatment for their community without the concern of falsified or fake medicines.
Frank explained that the National Health Insurance Service in Ghana (NHIS) had some policies that were counterproductive in supporting specialist care. Therefore did not always cover all types of the medicines that patients need. He was particularly critical of the lack of provision of some basic medicines for mental care. These are classified as specialist medicines by the NHIS, leaving many low-income families to fund it themselves. Furthermore, they typically go without if the King’s Village could not provide these medicines. To help them provide holistic care to patients, Frank clearly requested more supplies of as many generic and general medicines (tablets, syrups and injections iv infusions etc) as possible. This enables them to put critical resources toward the procurement of the expensive and highly inaccessible specialist medicines that the community needs.
The reimbursement process for medicines procured through the Ministry of Health in Ghana was massively protracted. This meant that funds were regularly locked up for long periods of time. As at the time of my visit about 13 months payment for medicines was owed the King’s Village.
I conducted a mini audit of the medicines, the storage and warehousing condition, their disposal of expired drugs and some of the processes they had in place to manage the dispensary.
We discussed the management of the community through health programmes. Frank saw the need to increase prevention programmes such as vaccination, sexual and family planning and public health initiatives. However, the challenge was that they did not have the human and financial resources to develop them. We agreed to discuss this again as the closed nature of the population served by the King’s Village made it adequate for controlled programmes that could be evaluated for outcome and research purposes.
Mental Health Services
I then visited the relatively new psychiatric unit. The service currently sees between 60-70 people a month. It originally operated only 2 days a week, but it is now providing service all week. The King’s Village was making a big effort to destigmatize mental health. They attempted this by encouraging people to attend their service for all medical treatments including mental health conditions.
I saw a patient called Mani…
A 45 year old man suffered from a seizure disorders caused by febrile fever and was taken to the health centre. This came from cerebral malaria sequelae and resulting in mental health problems. He had been an in and outpatient for many months. He was now stable and was getting ready for discharged to be productive back in society.
His story showed the importance of holistic management of mental health conditions with other conditions. The King’s Village is the only service where this is available for miles in this part of Tamale.
Simon, the lead in the Psychiatry service requested medicines such as carbamazepine, Sodium Valproate, Risperidone, Antidepressants and iv Lorazepam to help augment their services.
The Feeding and Nutritional centre
Malnutrition among babies and young children is above average in this community. The King’s Village ensures that they can provide a service to treat these cases. I then visited the nutritional centre and met mothers and their malnourished children. These children had to live in the centre for many months. They could only return home once they were healthy and fit. The nutritional centre was a very impressive but a simple set up. Here, they have an impressive but simple set up. They are able to teach mothers and their children how to reintroduce high nutritional but simple meals and diets to their families. This is to ensure their children receive the right nutritional meals to stay healthy. There were a couple of families that had spent more than 3 months within the centre.
Visit to a feeder Village -Kushiebo
Ben and Marion took me to Kushiebo which is a village about 10 miles away from the King’s Village. This is one of the many communities they serve. This was a very small village with not more than 50 people. The people live in huts surrounding the Chief’s hut.
The setup of this small community with basic amenities gave a vivid picture of the challenges healthcare providers face in caring for its communities.
Despite their very basic existent the Chief of Kushiebo presented me with two dozen of guinea fowl eggs to welcome me into their community.
Summary & conclusion
Ben and his newly appointed general manager, Daniel Damian called a meeting of 6 of their board members to meet with me. They wanted to summarise my visit and expressed their gratitude and to ask for feedback of my time with them.
Lastly, it gave me the opportunity to express my gratitude for accepting me there on behalf of IHP. I also wanted to acknowledge the extent of their work in Tamale. I promised to take their story and the on- going needs back to IHP. We could then look into how we can better support them in the future. The meeting ended with a prayer.
The Chief of Kushiebo’s compound gave me 1 dozen guinea fowl eggs. This, I gratefully received. I gave the chief a small gift 50 cedis to thank him for his warmth and hospitality to me. This is approximately £10. I also wanted to acknowledge the partnership he has with the King’s Village.
The management team of King’s Village gave me a beautiful Batakari dress. Batakari is a woven material which is ingenious to the Northern and Upper regional tribes of Ghana.
Thank you to IHP for sharing their story with us. We are so grateful that you took the opportunity to visit one of our partner health centres. We look forward to working closer with you in the future. – Inter Care team.
St Joseph’s Hospital, Jirapa
We visited St Joseph’s Hospital, Jirapa
At first glance
Upon arrival, we noticed that this hospital is large and easy to find on the main street.
First, we visited Dr Richard Wodah, Medical Director. Dr Wodah told us about their cash-flow problems which were caused by the collapse of the Ghanaian National Insurance scheme. This mean that they have run out of funds.
Dr Wodah tells us more about the challenges
Dr Wodah had to be pro-active in seeking out and obtaining help from charities. These include Inter Care, Motec and Jacob’s Well who still support the health centre now.
We learnt that (like many areas of Africa ) it is difficult to recruit doctors in North-Western Ghana. Were not entirely surprised to find that Dr Wodah is the only Doctor in this 193 bed hospital (!). However, he does have a large team. This included; 102 nurses, 3 Medical Assistants, a pharmacist, a pharmacy assistant, 4 technicians, 41 midwives and a visiting dentist and ophthalmologist.
Finally, we noted that their facilities include; an Outpatient dept. that sees 350 patients per day and a good laboratory which can perform basic tests. The pharmacy is extremely busy and there is a lack of IT systems and equipment.
How Inter Care help…
Firstly, we saw a clear evidence of Inter Care drugs being used to treat patients free of charge. We were please see our mission in action.
Secondly, we learnt that the team at this hospital are appreciative of the aid that Inter Care provides.
In summary, we would like to increase our supplies to them where possible. This is because this hospital serves a large area of 101,000 plus population
Inter Care support with bi-annual consignments containing a range of medical products including basic medicines and dressings.
Visit this health unit’s official site at:
Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO) Orphanage, Mulanje
FOMO run 13 Day Centres for orphans which include a nursery and primary school providing two meals per day for the younger children, one for the older.
They have one Secondary School which is private and which has 60 students. The school was modern and in very good condition.
The Centres are located in different villages up to 15Km away. If they cannot treat children themselves, they take them to the local hospital. The clinic currently serves orphans, staff, some guardians and some locals. Inter Care supplies most of their medicines, (50-70%). They have a lab.
There is only 1 clinical officer, 1 lab assistant, 1 nurse which is a challenge for the centre. Furthermore, the government give some support but the rest of their medicines are purchased from private pharmacies or come from Inter Care.
There are many cases of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea. Also, HIV prevalence is in line with the national prevalence at around 10%.
The total number of children they supported was given as 5,340, aged infants to 18-20 years. The nursery had 51 children and 2 carers. We also noticed an absence of toys.
FOMO also runs various skills trainings for the older children including driving, computer and tailoring programmes.
In addition to this, they reported 35-70 outpatients daily and there is a laboratory, which was over-equipped with 4 microscopes to do simple tests of urine, stool and for malaria. There is a room for voluntary counselling and testing. The Centre is able to do minor procedures, like suturing, and IV fluids. There was a huge tray of IV cannulas, enough to keep them going for a very long time! The medicine cupboard we were shown was full of IC medicines, a number of which were totally unsuitable, e.g. warfarin, azathioprine and allopurinol.
To learn more about our partners at this health centre please visit:
Ndi Moyo Palliative Care Centre
To learn more about our partners at this health centre please visit:
Madisi Mission Hospital
- Location: 80m KM north of Lilongwe. Dowa District. Lilongwe Archdiocese.
- Catchment population: 43,000
- Key staff met: Robert Jones and Oswald Yona Lungu (Administrator)
- Nearest referral unit: 80Km – Central Hospital Lilongwe
- Facilities: 123 beds in Maternity, Paediatric, male and female wards. Ambulance recently in an accident. 2 old vehicles and a motorbike. Lab, X-ray, Nutrition unit, HIV and TB programmes
- Staff: 6 clinical officers, 1 medical assistant, 25 nurses. Doctor visits regularly.
- Workload: 70 deliveries/month+ general outpatient and inpatient care
- Disease pattern: Standard for this area: Malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, sepsis, opportunistic infections associated with HIV, asthma, sexually transmitted infections +RTAs
- Estimated % of meds from IC: 5%
- Support from government and other sources: Vaccines, ARVs, TB drugs, Malaria tests and treatment from Central Government Stores. Staff salaries paid by CHAM
- Overview: Require another nebulizer. They would prefer to continue receiving 2 consignments from Inter Care per year but could collect parcels from the airport if necessary.
To learn more about our partners at this health centre please visit:
St John of God Hospital, Mzuzu
This hospital undertakes pioneering and extraordinary work in a country where there is hardly any provision for treating mental illness. The hospital is one of only three psychiatric units in Malawi which provide 39 inpatient beds and extensive specialist outpatient care. Furthermore, they deal with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, drug-induced psychosis, epilepsy and clinics for the elderly. Although the environment is pleasant and rehabilitation programmes extensive, there are still significant problems with shortage of funds. it is difficult to get government funding for medicine and mental health care is expensive.
Moreover, there is a real difficulty sourcing psychiatric drugs. This is because their specialist nature means that they are not stocked by private pharmacies. More general medicines are used in the elderly clinics and for incidental infections and malaria in psychiatric patients.
Training in mental health is now a priority at St John of God, with over 150 nurses and 100 clinical officers now trained and degree courses available.
To learn more about our partners at this health centre please visit:
(pictures taken at visit in October 2012 and 2017)
St Anne’s Hospital, Chilumba
This small hospital with 54 beds is run by a clinical officer with surgical and obstetric emergencies referred to Karonga, an hour away along the main lakeshore road. Inter Care had direct experience of this when somehow we squashed into the ambulance with us a lady in obstructed labour, a guardian and a heap of luggage. (The outcome was good: amazing what a bumpy road can achieve it terms of progression in labour!)
When Sister Clementina arrived at Chilumba ten months ago she inherited a 10 million Kwacha (£10,000) deficit owed to drug companies. This is a common situation and means that hospitals buy from multiple pharmacies where they can extend their credit. The state of repair of buildings and level of equipment is poor, but this is hardly surprising. In particular, they asked if we could source a Doppler machine to assess better the need for maternity referral. The sisters’ accommodation is simple and power was a problem, but their welcome warm as ever.
To learn more about our partners at this health centre please visit:
(pictures sent via email in July 2019 showing the consignment we sent)
Nkhamenya Mission Hospital
Visit Report (October 2017)
This is 100 bed hospital with just ONE doctor. It is 60 Km on a good road from its referral hospital in Kasungu with a workload higher than expected from its catchment. This is because of patients crossing the Zambian border. There are approximately 77 deliveries per month and 65 outpatients per day. The hospital is situated on an entire mission complex which is beautifully kept and managed.
Requests were for surgical instruments which we could satisfy. They also requested for a biochemistry machine and cryotherapy unit. These items might, on occasion, be offered to Inter Care. It would also be a good candidate for an Aerogen Pro nebuliser.
Pictures taken in 2017 (Inter Care visit Nkhamenya and Ketete)
Nzama Health Centre
Our day at Nzama – 29th October 2019
We spent 2 nights at Nzama HC, a very remote clinic along an extremely poor quality road. There is a new road being built but far from being ready so, along with poverty and unemployment transport is also a real problem. Sister Juliana is a sister of huge character and is a very a positive lady. All the sisters made us most welcome except for the cockerel who started crowing too early for sleeping!
The water and electricity is available and working perhaps 75% of the time. The medical assistant is Sister Theresa. Sister Juliana is wanting to recruit another medical assistant but before she can do so, she has to finish building a house for the new recruit – Thankfully it is almost ready!
At first glance
They have a new purpose-built Pharmacy, which was the best we saw on our entire trip. It has its own generator and air conditioning unit, a big relief from the heat of the outdoors!
We were informed that many of the patients must walk long distances, perhaps up to 4hrs and 50% of the patients are from Mozambique. They have a very old ambulance; however it can often be out of service being repaired for 3 months at a time making transferring patients a real issue.
The unit’s staff have very recently been trained by the government’s cervical screening program. The stipulation is that girls aged 15years and above are to be screened and every 3 years thereafter. Ladies who are HIV positive are to be screened annually. It is common for girls become sexually active from age 12 years old and so, by the time they are 18 years old they may be mother to 3 children.
Malnutrition is a problem at Nzama. Here we met a single mum from Mozambique who had walked all the way, some 50-60kms, with her sick daughter who had malaria and who was also suffering from malnutrition. The little girl who was 1 year old was ‘in recovery’ from the malaria but still displaying severe symptoms of floppiness and malnutrition some 10 days on from arrival at the health centre. The young mother was very frightened and isolated as she had travelled alone on foot to reach the unit, but at some point, the Mother would have to start the long walk back home to Mozambique.
(Visit, October 2019)
Tsangano Health Centre
We travelled from Nzama HC south towards Mozambique for some 2 hours on very rough roads – This was not a journey for the faint hearted! We were hoping to meet the new Sister in Charge but unfortunately she was not there on the day so Patrick the Medical Assistant was our main contact here. Patrick was just finishing the morning out-patients clinic, which was conducted in a very small building that lacked an examination room.
At first glance
The area is very rural with poor sanitation so there are many diarrheal problems along with skin infections such as Scabies. When we visited, they had had rainfall a few weeks prior, so dysentery was a big concern because people were drinking dirty water. This is in a colder area of Malawi so chest infections such as pneumonia are more common however this also means that there is less malaria. The catchment area extends for 15-20kms meaning a 3-hour walk is often necessary for patients. The staff spoke of issues regarding knife crime in the vicinity. E.g. there is a local bar where the men folk drink heavily at weekends and fights often occur between the locals and those that travel from nearby Mozambique! Only the day before our visit a male patient who had been involved in a fight had had to be transferred to Ntcheu Hospital in their very old ambulance – a 3-4hrs journey, and can be a 5hr drive in the rainy season if the roads are passable.
Simply visiting Blantyre to buy medicines involves a journey of at least 5hrs each way so the staff only make the trip every 3 months or so. As for maternity services, the impact of this being a very rural clinic means that, for complications the journey to a hospital is too long and sadly, some babies/mothers do not survive. We were told that they lose 50% of their referrals in transit – a shocking statistic!
In terms of infrastructure the unit is working towards expanding their spaces. A new maternity unit has been built yet it is awaiting completion. The aim is that ultimately this development will provide more ward and clinic spaces, e.g. providing new-borns with their own ward area.
12 staff in total
- 8 nurses/midwives
- 1 Medical Assistant
- 1 Pharmacy Assistant
- 2 Accounts/admin staff
- Under 5s and maternal patients receive FOC medicines
- Charge all other patients
- However they make exemptions for some patients who cannot afford to pay – this is where donated medicines are used
- Sanitation and hygiene in local area is very poor
- Trying to increase education in the villages
- Issue with fighting in the local areas at the bars. Large reason for this is that catchment area is on border with Mozambique, and there is lots of fighting between people from Malawi and Mozambique. Often use knives, which results in deep cuts and men admitted to Health Centre
- Only 1 Medical Assistant (no Doctors or Clinical Officers) – usually seeing over 50 patients a day
- Ambulance to transfer patients to other hospitals is too old and needs to be replaced. The ambulance struggles with lots of non-tarmac roads in the area
- Lots of cases of diarrhoea resulting from rainfall a couple of weeks ago and subsequently people drinking from wells
- Not enough rooms and beds to treat all patients, resulting in overcrowding and patients in corridors
- Children with diarrhoea are in same room as newborns and any other diseases children are being treated for
- Not enough staff houses – 3 houses for 12 staff
- No NRU for nutrition – Patients get transferred from here to Nzama who have nutrition unit
- No generator currently, for when they lose electricity
- Used to have lots of neo-natal deaths – they often need to transfer mothers to Ntcheu
- Now 50:50 chance of survival
- Patients are usually referred to Ntcheu which is 80km away and takes 3-4 hours by ambulance. In critical cases this has led to patient deaths or unnecessary added complications
- Contributes to number of neo-natal deaths
Medicines most needed
- Ferrous Sulphate – prescribed to pregnant women
- Paracetamol and Ibuprofen
- Benzyl Benzoate – for treating scabies and skin conditions
Commonly treat for
- Lots of skin conditions and eye conditions
- Scabies due to lack of hygiene in local villages – lots of children in particular
- Lots of patients treated for severe diarrhoea due to poor sanitation and hygiene in local villages – treated with ORS, Zinc and Loparamide
- Lots of conjunctivitis, especially among young children
- Not many cases of malaria here, as higher up and has cooler temperatures
- Pneumonia and diarrhoea have highest number of patients treated for
- Some dysentery and Gastro-enteritis also
- They buy medicines from Blantyre quarterly using old ambulance.
- Patrick (Med Asst) has seen more than 50 patients by 11am today.
- Catchment area is large about 15km (25,000 people). Patients often walk over 3 hours to get here
- Children with diarrhoea are in same room as newborns and any other diseases children are being treated for
- Patients bring their own linen sometimes as the Health Centre does not have enough for all patients
- Very cramped. Some patients are sharing beds
- There are mothers with new babies, mixed with a range of other illnesses. For example there is currently a patient being treated for dysentery
- We observed that although the Health Centre is undoubtedly cramped, it could be organised better. For example they have an entire room allocated for relatives next door, which we perceived would have been better used to expand space for female patients
- No patients in male ward currently
- 7 beds
- Larger ward than Female ward that only has 3 beds. Could they switch male and female wards to better utilise space
- With the Health Centre being so understaffed, and the burden placed on existing staff these are considerations, which perhaps the staff do not have time to make.
(Visit, October 2019)
Nsipe Health Centre
Nspie is a small village located around 16km east of Ntcheu and about 140km north of Blantyre and 180km south of Lilongwe. The clinic serves 36 villages in the surrounding area, with an estimated population of 25,331. The clinic provides outreach services to the villages, reached by bicycle. The clinic also serves people from the wider area as the government facility in the neighbouring area has no maternity care.
The electricity supply and water supply are not perfect but are manageable. This unit also has a good working relationship with the government and a local hospital at Ntcheu and, works alongside 36 outreach clinics. The unit has access to shared vehicles/bikes, and also medicines if needed.
The main issue here is the infrastructure – the lack of buildings and beds! E.g. the labour ward has only 2 beds so, at busy times some babies are delivered in the corridor.
Mothers and babies usually only stay for 24hrs, not the usual 48hrs, due the lack of beds.
The electricity typically goes off for 3 hours at a time, once or twice a day. The water is served by an electric pump, so this also causes a problem. They do have a backup generator which they use when necessary. Communication here is challenging, they have to travel to Ntcheu to access the internet. Medicines are collected by ambulance from the post office in Ntcheu, and Ntcheu District Hospital is the closest hospital for referrals. The clinic uses a WhatsApp group where they can discuss cases with staff from the hospital to receive guidance before making a referral.
The clinic is run by the Sister in Charge, Sister Josephine, who is a trained nurse midwife. The clinic has an SLA with the government for maternity and care of children under 5. They also provide HIV, TB, malaria, nutrition and vaccinations. All of this is provided for free. If patients come for other conditions, they pay 500 Kwacha (50 pence) for a consultation and the same again if they need a bed for the night. Medicines are charged for on top unless they have donated medicines available. The clinic has not been paid by the government for over six months.
The clinic purchases most of its medicines 4 times a year from wholesalers in Blantyre who let them take items on credit.
Inter Care is the only source of donated medicines, which make up about 5-6% of their stock.
The pharmacy is managed by a nurse midwife, with support from the medical assistant. If they run out of a medicine, they try to trade with the government hospital. The pharmacy keeps purchased and donated medicines separate. There is no temperature management in the pharmacy, they are just kept in a dark room.
Each month, they see around 4,080 outpatients and 240 inpatients. There are 56 beds. On average they deliver around 70-80 babies a month, but last month it was 110 deliveries. There is no incubator so premature babies receive Kangaroo care.
Most common health issue seen include skin conditions, upper respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, gastrointestinal illnesses, diarrhoeal disease, sepsis, malnutrition, malaria, eye conditions, STIs including HIV, trauma or heart conditions. There is currently an outbreak of scabies in the community.
(Visit, October 2019)
St Martin’s Health Centre
At first glance, we notice that the unit is very poor with little in the way of facilities. The outreach clinics are remote and difficult to get to with a very old ambulance which is not even a 4×4 wheel drive. Both electricity and water are major issues for the clinic and there is no money available for either. To make matters worse the water pump at the unit is currently broken.
Wellington the Medical Assistant is good however he has to see 80+ patients per day! -A huge workload. See his full story here
They have an under 5’s clinic most days however, it is held in a building resembling a cow shed which does not have seating for those waiting to be seen. Their laboratory is of an extremely poor standard, as is the pharmacy – which provides very little education for the staff.
See Zione and Mara’s story here
The unit is very reliant on the banana plants however, after devastating floods in 2015 a crop failure followed. The government has ordered the locals to uproot diseased plants but they are refusing and consequently are still having considerable crop issues. Bananas are a main staple food of the area i.e. we had bananas every day at least twice in all different forms hot and cold, so it was clear to us that a crop failure has a direct and huge impact for the local people.
- Only Ambulance keeps breaking down
- Road has only been tarmacked in last 3-4 years. Up until this point they faced a lot of issues in terms of transport, access and remoteness.
- They have a well and a pump. However they have had difficulties accessing, so sometimes have to bring water back from a bore hole some distance away.
- They would like to introduce a solar pump
- Sometimes go days without electricity and don’t have a backup generator.
- Only 1 Medical Assistant (no Doctors or Clinical Officers)
Medicines most needed
- Also mentioned Salbutamol tabs are in low supply and would be most needed donated
- Metformin (Glucophage) also needed for diabetic patients
- They received a delivery from Inter Care 6 weeks ago
- Ciprofloxacin and Amoxicillin tablets they received have been used already
- No taxes on receiving stock from Inter Care
Commonly treat for
- Skin Conditions
- Nearest referral hospital is Malamulo Hospital 13km away.
- If suspected Sepsis or Meningitis they refer to nearest district hospital
- A lot of patients die in local villages and are brought to HC to confirm death
- There are posters up with preparations for Ebola in HC and external programme across district.
- Some people are affected by Cyclone Idai in lower parts of catchment area
- Houses collapsed and some children died
- Some families houses have been rebuilt and have moved back
- Banana crop failure in area
- They purchase medicines from Blantyre once a month
- However have real difficulties with transport and fluctuation of prices
- Purchase from Unichem, Worldwide and Pharmavisit (?)
- Stock outs not always common, but they have a lot currently as coming up to busy period before rainy season
- When Cipro runs out, they use alternative medicines, not always as effective
(Visit, October 2019)
Namulenga Health Centre
Namulenga is located about 45km away from Blantyre. It was built in 1968.
It is a small Health Centre with only a Medical Assistant prescribing medicines, along with 5 nurses/midwives, 1 lab attendant and 1 pharmacy assistant for a catchment population of just over 11,000.
There is no Clinical Officer or doctor on site, they are only visited by a doctor from the regional hospital once every three months. These visits provide an opportunity to discuss complicated cases, and raise wider issues affecting the clinic.
- The clinic contains a 10 bed maternity ward, and a 10 person general ward.
- The health centre provides antenatal care and deliver 10-20 babies a month
- The clinic provides maternity services, and services for patients with HIV and TB.
They had installed solar panels recently but only to power the refrigerator so even the pharmacy was very hot. On average the electricity is off for 8 hours a day. They have a water pipe from the mountain area but often it delivers a very low pressure so, they must use the borehole at the primary school.
They have a very old ambulance however, when we visited it was in for a service so, they had no means of transport other than bicycles.
The equipment on the wards and the labour unit was in a good condition but the laboratory was very poor!
They were in desperate need of some microscopy charts for the wall.
Staff accommodation was minimal with only 3 beds for the 5 staff meaning that 2 staff members are required to sleep outside every night!
SISTER MARTHA’S STORY (Medical Assistant)
“This morning I treated a boy of 12 years old. His mother was away, and he had tried cooking Nsima [cooked, ground white maize flour – a staple food] for himself, and was burned by the flame. I was able to give him painkillers and dressings, but we have run out of silver sulfadiazine cream, so I had to send him to the hospital. That is unfortunate because we would like to be able to treat that kind of simple condition here, without making him make a long and unnecessary journey to the hospital. “
“One of the items we recently received from IHP through Inter Care, were some children’s ear thermometers. They are brilliant! They are fast, they are accurate, and they are good for babies who wriggle!”
See Sr Martha’s full story – Download here
St Joseph’s Hospital, Limbe
We spent the day at the hospital which is situated a 45-minute drive from Lunzu where we were staying. The Director Sister Mercy is a busy lady, and we spoke at length to Michael, Head of the Medical Team. The hospital has a very busy OPD (outpatient department) seeing on average 80-100 patients per day. The hospital has 198 beds – on average 50-60 are occupied overnight.
We visited the laboratory which is small by our standards. They have a small chemical analyzer (see image) which had been funded by an external company, however the funding had stopped so the machine was no longer in use. Furthermore, they were lacking an incubator so were unable to process any cultures – this was a big challenge for them. They were however using the Gene Xpert program to support TB screening and, a new development is that they are now starting cervical screening programs.
The pharmacy department recently moved into a new building and was well organized however, sourcing products remains an issue due to ‘out of stocks’ and having to buy from private pharmacies. One of the major challenges faced by the hospital was security and loaning equipment to patients, e.g. crutches which were subsequently not returned.
In the afternoon, we visited the Training College, which has always offered Nursing and Midwifery training. However, in 2017 they started offering Pharmacy Assistant training as well. The capacity of the college is 480 students, there are 84 employees of whom 28 are academic staff. Nursing Midwifery Diploma is a 3-year course and the Pharmacy Assistant Certificate 2 years. They had recently purchased 70 BNFs at a cost of £350.
Sister Mercy has excellent contacts with all the health units in the area and would be willing to work with Inter Care to facilitate distribution of goods across the area when we can send a container.
(Visit, October 2019)
Pirimiti Community Hospital
Pirimiti Community Hospital has benefitted from recent building improvements. The new building is exceptionally clean, well-organised and is unrecognisable from when Inter Care had visited previously in 2009. Sister Mary Njuguna (from Kenya) is the Hospital Director.
The patients that attend the hospital are cared for in the main maternity wing, along with the surgical cases. They have no anaesthetic machine and use spinal anaesthesia for C-sections. They have 350 deliveries per month, of which approximately 65 are C-sections. This number is relatively high because complicated cases are referred to them from five surrounding health centres – two are NGO’s (including Matiya Health Centre) and three are government units.
The other wards are male, female and paediatric – seeing many cases of malaria, urinary tract infections, skin conditions and pneumonia. Road traffic accidents tend to be referred to Zomba General Hospital.
Malaria is the most common ailment treated, followed by urinary tract infections, pneumonia, skin conditions, and sexually transmitted diseases.
A young man being treated at Pirimiti
They are very busy
In addition to the number of births (350), they treat over 50 inpatients, and 1,200 outpatients each month. They also see over 3,500 patients each month at their various clinics.
Inter Care’s Impact
Inter Care has supported Pirimiti Community Hospital with the provision of medicines and health care goods for 16 years. In September 2021 Inter Care funded £8,888 worth of vital medicines and health care goods delivered through medical distributor / supplier Action Medeor, our partner in Malawi.
Matiya Health Centre
Matiya Health Centre is on the main road to Zomba which is tarmacked until the last 7km where the surface changes to marram roads. It is a small health centre with 28 beds and a high volume of patients. It is extremely busy serving a large catchment population of 48,278.
It has a very poor infrastructure. Only 4 of the 11 staff can be housed and the rest sleep outside in tents, yet they do amazing work.
The buildings were damaged by Cyclone Idai which hit the country in 2019. Sadly, many of the population lost their lives during the cyclone and many have been left homeless by the destruction it left behind.
A small unit with 28 beds, Matiya treats over 130 inpatients and 1,800 outpatients per month. The unit also supports a mammoth 96 villages per month with outreach services. The average number of deliveries each month is 126 babies. The most common conditions they encounter are respiratory tract infections, followed by hypertension, sexually transmitted diseases and skin conditions.
With 1 Clinical Officer, 2 Medical Assistants and 12 nurse/midwives, they manage to provide a considerable outreach service.
Inter Care’s Impact
Case Study: Kenneth Golosi, Matiya’s Clinical Officer recounted details of a patient he had seen that morning – a 2-year-old child who was HIV positive. His mother had carried him 8kms on foot, wearing no shoes, after the boy had suffered for three days with a fever and a cough.
On examination his temperature was 38oC and he was irate, pink/febrile and clearly distressed. Kenneth carried out a physical examination which showed mild cramps, however the abdomen was clear. The treatment plan was to test for malaria first which proved positive. He also suspected an acute respiratory infection. The initial treatment given was antibiotics (amoxicillin) for seven days coupled with paracetamol for three days for pain relief. All the treatments given were donated by Inter Care.
Sr. Stivelio Macloud – Sr. in Charge
Also donated was a crocheted blanket for baby Innocent who had been born with six digits on each hand (knitted by a local Inter Care supporter group based in East Goscote, Leicestershire).
A recent quote from Sister Stivelio “The supplies we receive from Inter Care are 100% suitable for our needs.” underlines not only the importance of Inter Care’s support to Matiya, but it also emphasises the value of the Inter Care’s policy of, ensuring that we only supply what they tell us they most need.
Chiringa Health Centre
One of the smallest, and most remote units partnered by Inter Care, Chiringa has only 25 beds supporting a local population of 1,700. Being near the Mozambique border they receive many patients from across the border. When Inter Care visited Chiringa in 2019 we met with Sr. Rhoda Bendala who showed us around a very clean and organised facility. They told us that their water pump had recently been stolen, so they were having to rely on a bore hole.
They have no doctor but do have a clinical officer, eight nurses/midwives and a medical assistant. They average 30 deliveries a month, and the conditions they most often treat are: malaria, pneumonia and hypertension.
Sister Rhoda Bendala at Chiringa Health Centre
Inter Care Impact
Inter Care has supported Chiringa Health Centre with the provision of medicines and health care goods for 10 years. In September 2021 Inter Care funded over £3,000 worth of essential medicines delivered through medical distributor / supplier Action Medeor, our partner in Malawi.
Sukasanje Health Centre
Sukasanje, with 45 beds, is a 70-minute drive from Blantyre on a good road to the Mozambique border, then 70 minutes on a marram road which requires a 4×4 vehicle and is impassable in the rainy season. The unit is situated at the foot of Mulanje Mountain and as such has good access to piped water from the mountain. Visitors are extremely rare and very little English is spoken.
They have no IT equipment or internet connection, so the only method of communicating is via WhatsApp or by postal letter.
Due to its remoteness staff turnover is high and they struggle to recruit and retain medical staff. They have one very young medical assistant and nine nurse/midwives.
The local population of 25,000 are mainly unemployed and many patients come across the border from Mozambique (it is literally on the border) to receive medical treatment. On average they treat over 1,500 outpatients and deliver 80 babies each month. The main conditions they are faced with are:
- Respiratory Infections
They keep very few patients in overnight but when they do, they charge the equivalent of 50p per night. Staff made requests to Inter Care for mattresses because those that they have are in a terrible condition with the foam being visible. Also, all bedsheets were missing – consequently patients had to use their own chitenjes (large pieces of coloured fabric) as the health unit could not provide any linen.
Inter Care Impact
When we visited in 2019, they asked if we could supply bedlinen and mattresses; this is not the usual request that we respond to as it is not directly medicines or Health Care Goods, however the One Wish Project could enable us to supply these if still needed.
Inter Care has supported Sukasanje Health Centre with the provision of medicines and health care goods for 16 years. In September 2021 Inter Care funded over £16,000 worth of vital supplies, delivered through medical distributor / supplier Action Medeor, our partner in Malawi.
Fistula Care Centre
The Centre runs a training programme for surgeons, nurses, medical and clinical officers. These are all trained by a Malawian fistula surgeon.
This centre is located in the grounds of Bwaila Hospital, Lilongwe and has 35 beds and an operating theatre.
The unit in Lilongwe sees and treats up to 300 women per year with vesico-vaginal fistula, (VVF), partly as ongoing work and partly at twice yearly ‘camps’. These run for an intensive 10-day period, during which 90 women are treated. These camps also take place in other Fistula Centres in Zomba and Blantyre. The overall success of surgery is 91%.
Obstetric fistula is a devastating childbirth injury caused by prolonged obstructed labour. To elaborate, it causes incontinence and infection and social stigmatisation. Between 50,000 and 100,000 women each year are affected each year globally. The Fistula Care Centre is a national specialist organisation treating women with VVF, usually caused by the ‘3 delays’ in maternity management.
The Centre takes a holistic approach to the care and rehabilitation of patients. They draw on rehabilitation, education and an empowerment programme. This includes access to micro-finance, a solar project where the women are given and taught to use a portable solar panel unit and literacy and numeracy classes, as well as lessons in arts and crafts.
The Centre has also established an Ambassador Programme where patients return to their communities and talk about the condition and its effect on women as well as supporting other women with VVF to seek support at the Centre. Despite being relatively well funded, the Centre still cannot access all the medicines and medical supplies it needs as there is a shortage of availability from the government.
They are therefore continually in need of antibiotics, painkillers, plasters and catheters. They were also very keen to receive Afripads (reusable sanitary pads) to add to the “welcome box” the women receive on arrival at the Centre. The approach taken to supporting the women was very impressive. .
To learn more about our partners at this health centre please visit:
(pictures taken at visit in 2015)
St Peter’s Hospital, Likoma Island
St Peter’s is a 52-bed Anglican hospital. It is beautifully situated next to the historic cathedral on Likoma Island in the centre of Lake Malawi. It is a busy place run by 2 clinical officers, 1 medical assistant, 12 qualified nurses and 1 laboratory technician caring for 4,450 Outpatients and 120 Inpatients per month.
Upon our visit in October 2017 we found it to be rather isolated i.e. the nearest referral centre 70km away by an infrequent and somewhat unreliable boat service. To exacerbate things the hospital boat was broken so emergency referral and the transportation of medicines is particularly problematic. We also noted a significant influx of patients travelling to St Peter’s from the nearby Mozambique coast which, effectively doubled the expected number of patients. Staff told us that the isolation issue also means that it is very challenging for them to recruit and retain staff.
Despite the absence of a qualified doctor the hospital needs to be able to cope with most eventualities including surgery and encouragingly, we learned that one of the clinical officers is currently studying for a degree in mental health. Their stocks of medication are supposedly supplied by the government through central medical stores but we are told that time after time this proves unreliable. Furthermore, it does not begin to keep pace with an extra influx of patients, leading inevitably to frequent shortages.
From our tour, we found Hospital Administrator Francis Vuma to be outstanding in his service to the hospital and, going forward we anticipate his advising Inter Care with local knowledge to improve the bespoke medical aid we can provide to Malawi in general. For St Peter’s Hospital Mr Vuma said “Funding for medicines and medical supplies, equipment are a challenge” Inter Care currently send consignments bi-annually which include medicines and medical supplies.
Mendewa Hospital and Clinic
Founded only in 2018, Mendewa is a small hospital, 8 miles from the town of Bo, with a catchment population of 5,000. The community in their area is impoverished, with no access to electricity, running water or main roads. Rates of illiteracy and under age pregnancy are high, poverty and poor health are debilitating factors in the area.
The Hospital: With 15 beds, they treat 225 adults and 720 patients under 18 each month. The opening of the hospital has helped to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the community, and since it has opened it has helped to reduce the infant mortality rate as well as the rate of deaths related to malaria and typhoid.
Medical Priorities: Malaria and typhoid are their biggest medical problems, both in terms of cases presenting and as a cause of death.
Medical Staff: There are 6 nurses and a midwife, a doctor visits once each week.
Inter Care’s Impact: As well as the direct medical aid, we also supply medical books wherever we can and where there is most need. Mendewa was one such beneficiary: “The Medical books have proved a big hit with our qualified staff and our student nurses, we are now hoping to gather enough to start a small library in the future, as books of this nature are rare and expensive in Sierra Leone. The Nurses have asked me to give you all a big Thank You!”
Inter Care’s Impact: Mendewa Hospital is a recent addition to the health units supported by Inter Care, their first shipment of medical aid was delivered in May 2021. Within 6 months well over 100 patients had benefitted from this aid.
Bo Children’s Hospital
Sierra Leone is a country which has a very high infant mortality and very low life expectancy, largely down to the lack of availability of treatment. According to the World Health Organisation the likelihood of dying before the age of 15 is more than 50% for both males and females.
The Bo Children’s Hospital is only the second children’s hospital to open in the history of Sierra Leone. Since its inception in June 2012 it has successfully treated over 30,000 children and is making a tangible difference in the community, especially for the helpless young children who are in desperate need of medical care. The biggest impact the hospital has made since it opened its doors has been saving lives from preventable conditions such as Malaria, malnutrition and diarrhoea.
Childrens’ Outpatient Clinic
Medical Staff: they have 17 nurses, 3 clinical officers and a doctor who visits once a week. The staff are all from the local community and take full responsibility for running the hospital.
Medical Conditions: Malaria accounts for about 48% of out-patient attendances, it also accounts for about 25% mortality in children under five, another 25% of which die due to malnutrition. Other than Malaria the main conditions seen are Diarrhoea, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Pneumonia.
Medical Facilities: This much needed hospital has 25 beds for both day and overnight admissions whilst also providing outpatients clinics, imaging and laboratory facilities, a pharmacy and minor surgery. A Triage and Isolation Ward have been added to the original building to handle the outbreak of infectious diseases. It also supports the parents by providing education about disease prevention and hygiene issues.
Covid 19: the pandemic has had a severe impact on the hospital as it was used as a holding and treatment centre for Covid 19 patients. This not only reduced significantly the services they provided, but has also caused patients to be reluctant to attend due to the stigma of Covid.
Adventist Hospital, Waterloo
Just 12 miles from Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, Adventist Hospital has 2 resident doctors, 15 nurses and a total staff of 36. The population of their catchment area is over half a million, of which over 70% are under 18 years old.
Medical Priorities: Malaria is their biggest single problem, both in terms of cases presenting, and as a cause of death; typhoid is also a major problem, and, more recently, Hepatitis has become more common in Sierra Leone, but they only have access to very limited medications and test kits.
In other words, some patients are so poor they cannot afford the treatments they need, so the fact that the medicines provided by Inter Care are free, means they can receive their treatment.
Inter Care’s Impact
Over 5,000 patients benefit from the medical aid provided by Inter Care in a year.
“We thank Inter Care very much for the support they have been giving us, they have made a tremendous difference to assist and subsidise those who cannot afford, that has reduced our cost in most of the drugs and supplies”
The Shepherd’s Hospice
“The Shepherd’s Hospice Sierra Leone believes that all people deserve compassion, honesty and comfort as they deal with a life-threatening illness”
The Shepherd’s Hospice is unique in Sierra Leone as it is an organisation specialising in palliative care for the terminally ill which they also provide training for. The hospice does not operate in the same way as a traditional hospice in the UK in that it mainly provides support to families who take home terminally ill patients and helps them provide palliative care at home.
Background: The Hospice was established as a local, non-governmental organization in 1994 with a mission to promote palliative care and health development in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. They moved to a purpose-built facility with inpatient, outpatient and home-based care in a more peaceful, rural site, in Waterloo on the outskirts of Freetown, in 2016. The population of their catchment area is over 250,000.
Medical Staff: They employ 1 full time and 1 visiting doctor, 2 Community Health Officers, 16 nurses & a community health nurse. They visit patients in their homes and monitor their care, as well as making sure they have the medicines etc. that they require. Recently many staff from international medical teams have returned to their own countries due to Covid 19, leaving the hospice short-staffed.
Homecare: They provide Medical Consulting and Nursing Care at home as well as Phone Support for people who have serious illness but are too weak to travel, or who are unable to enrol in inpatient hospice.
Inpatient Hospice: (24-hour symptom management); suitable for patients suffering severe symptoms which require intensive palliative care e.g. pain, difficulty breathing, nausea, and end-of-life symptoms which their families cannot manage at home. On average they have 27 inpatients per month.
Medical Conditions: They focus on chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and cancer. They mainly treat symptomatically for pain but also treat opportunistic infections. In addition to these they also run regular clinics for Diabetes and Hypertension.
Outpatient Clinic: The hospice provides primary care for the local community seeing over 100 patients per month for review of their medical problems or nursing needs e.g. wound care.
Other activities: They run a national TB program that involves a network of training officers going out into the provinces on motorcycles. This involves providing training and medications as well as setting up sputum labs where none are currently available.
Inter Care’s Impact: We recently received a heart-warming note from Gabriel Madiye, Executive Director of The Shepherd’s Hospice. He wrote “we bring some patients to the hospice centre for out-patient care, where patients are able to travel or assisted by the hospice vehicle. We are grateful that your donations are helping us reach the unreached, poor and vulnerable patients like Mama. She is a 27 year single unemployed mother living in Jui village and has suffered rejection and stigma because of her gangrene but is now being treated. Your generosity touches people in our deprived communities.”
Holy Spirit Hospital, Makeni
Founded in 2002, Holy Spirit Hospital is located in Masuba, 55km South of the city of Makeni – the largest city in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The dedicated staff in the hospital serve a catchment population of 600,000.
Hospital Facilities: this is a 75 bed hospital with wards serving a varied range of needs e.g. medical, surgical, paediatrics, and general. Other key features include 3 Operating Theatres, a Laboratory, a Pharmacy, and a new, recently opened, Maternity Wing.
They also have 3 ambulances and a van to help with transportation of their staff e.g. for home visits.
Medical Resources: The hospital is looked after by a total of 40 staff. These include; 3 resident doctors, plus 1 visiting part time, 16 nurses, 4 midwives and 3 laboratory technicians.
They are very busy: They treat over 11,000 patients each year. 2,000 of these patients are in their teens and 4,000 are children under 12 years old. Each month they treat approximately 9,500 Outpatients and look after 90 Inpatients. In the maternity wards, between 5-7 babies are born every month and take their first breaths at Holy Spirit Hospital.
Medical Conditions: Malaria, hypertension and gastritis are the most common conditions encountered at the hospital.
Outreach: They have outreach programmes to 4 local villages covering, General Medical, Under 5s and Maternity.
The challenges: The Ebola epidemic of 2014-6 had an enormous impact on the hospital, and it is still recovering. The economic situation remains extremely challenging, aggravated by the high incidence of Malaria, Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS. They have difficulties with the availability of required medicines. Furthermore, there are challenges with counterfeit medicines entering their supply chain.
Quote from Dr Patrick Turay, September 2021: “they have been able to carry out reconstructive surgery due to the quality and effectiveness of the supply of dressings”
The Holy Spirit Hospital’s role with Inter Care Containers
Dispatching a container packed with medical aid to a country brings great advantages, but also logistical problems. The advantages are that large, heavy items, far too expensive to send by air, can be sent economically by Inter Care. One of the disadvantages is that all that aid arrives at the same place, and that the hospitals, health units and dispensaries for whom the aid is intended can be dispersed far and wide.
Inter Care supports 7 such scattered units in Sierra Leone, and we are extremely grateful that Dr Turay at Holy Spirit Hospital agrees to take delivery of the container, and to arrange the distribution of its contents amongst all the country’s recipients.
Unloading the container at Holy Spirit Hospital
“We assure you that these supplies will be used well for the good of the patients. You are a true partner.”
Reaction from Dr Turay on arrival of the first container
Bai Bureh Memorial Community Hospital
Founded in 1971 as a private hospital, Bai Bureh is located in Lunghi, across the water from Freetown. Bai Bureh is only accessible via very poor quality roads. Today, this 52 bed hospital provides healthcare cover to a relatively large 800,000 catchment population that includes the airport and its workers, as well as some people who come from nearby Freetown.
Medical Provision: With a total of 25 staff including 2 doctors, 1 pharmacist, 10 nurses and 2 midwives, the hospital treats around 400 Outpatients and 215 Inpatient admissions each month.
Inter Care’s Impact: Inter Care started supporting Bai Bureh Hospital after visiting in February 2010. We knew we could provide basic medicines and dressings. Over 500 patients each year benefit from the free medicines provided by Inter Care.
On behalf of Bai Bureh Memorial Community Hospital I will like to register my sincere thanks and appreciation to the entire Inter Care family for the huge support over the years.
Because of you our facility has been able to maintain its quality service delivery over the years and even in difficult periods like these (February 2021). At a time when a lot of facilities cannot function properly we are here delivering quality medical services to people in Port Loko district and the country as a whole.
The quality of the drugs we receive from you cannot be compared to this country because most of the drugs a lot of clinics and hospitals are dealing with in Sierra Leone today are counterfeit drugs from Asia and other African countries. To be honest with you Inter Care is setting us apart from the others in medical service delivery in this part of the country and beyond.
Medical Director, Dr. Hassan Sesay recently described an example of how our medical aid makes a real difference:
“We got a 70yrs old woman with a hypertensive crisis… two puffs of Nitrolingual spray under her tongue reversed her situation. Now she is stable and will discharge tomorrow. This medication is very expensive and not common in the local market. Thanks to Inter Care for all, God bless you all.”
St Francis of Assisi Orphanage
Visit Report 2014
St Francis Orphanage is situated just outside Moshi in the Catholic Diocese of Moshi. It is run by the Sisters of our Lady of Kilimanjaro and provides care and education for 255 children aged from 18 months to 12 years. 200 children live in and the remainder, who have one parent, live at home.
The orphanage caters for children with and without disability. Special provision is offered for the deaf and blind. Some of the lay teachers are also blind or deaf. Some children have other physical disabilities. 17 children (6.7%) had albinism. Tanzania has a particularly high level of albinism (1 in 1429 or 0.07% of the population) with 35000 individuals affected nationally. The large numbers at the orphanage are due to cultural beliefs and government policy. Within society albinism is treated with fear and suspicion.
It is believed that those affected are ghosts, cursed and intellectually impaired. Those with albinism are subjected to physical attack and body parts are used in witchcraft. The government has encouraged housing those with albinism in orphanages to protect them from physical harm. This policy has been highly criticised for its consequent social isolation of those affected and the lack of education of the wider population. Those with albinism usually have normal intellect, but are subject to eye impairment and skin cancers. We noted that all these children were provided with sun hats.
When we arrive
As visitors we were given an extremely warm welcome. The children sang for us and were keen to know us individually by name. Their attention and delight was almost embarrassing. The Sister in charge explained the children are delighted to see anyone who seems to care. They had no family to visit.
We toured the compound, but were not shown inside the classrooms or sleeping quarters. We visited the dispensary for which Intercede provides some drugs. The dispensary is staffed by a Nurse/Midwife and a Medical Officer visits once or twice per week. Also, it has rooms for sick children and a delivery room. It was explained that passing pregnant women, usually Masai, seek to deliver there. Any medical complications are passed on to the hospital in Moshi.
The challenge and needs
Firstly, we noticed that the drug stock consisted of high strength sun cream for those with albinism, simple analgesia, a range of antibiotics, treatments for malaria and simple dressings. There was a request for more drugs.
Also, there is a new complex for teenagers to learn technical skills. This included carpentry and joinery, metal work, garment making, cookery and horticulture. The catering department was not finished. The students for the training college mainly come from the surrounding area. Some have been at the orphanage as children.
The orphanage grows its own fruit and vegetables and kept cows, pigs and chickens for milk, eggs and meat. The children helped with these tasks.
It was unclear, due to communication difficulties, exactly where the children go at 12 years. Some go to to do further education at the local High School.
Finally, the nuns had their own house on site and we received the usual warm Tanzanian hospitality. They seemed pleased with our gifts of toys and clothes, but it is clear that there is great need for further and regular supplies.
Report – Visit in 2011 (volunteer trip)
Nearly the whole party visited Kilema with a view to walking in the hills after the visit. Those of us who had visited Kibosho were impressed by the condition of the road for the first few km after leaving the tarmac of the Arusha Road, this however soon changed as the condition became increasingly rough. It is a journey worth making even if not to visit the hospital as the views from there are magnificent.
What we did first
We were greeted by Sister Clarissa, who was, unfortunately, unaware of our visit. She handed us over to another sister who took us on a tour of the hospital. It became increasingly apparent that a group of 16 is far too many to take round a hospital and most of the volunteers who were not immediately involved enjoyed the sun in the hospital garden for some of the visit.
At first glance
The hospital is well laid out and appears to be well run. They have male, female, obstetric and gaenological wards in addition to maternity and children’s wards and an out patient department. They see around 70 patients per day. There is also perform major surgery and have visits from an eye surgeon. The theatre is well laid out and reasonably well equipped; they do however need more sterile gloves and suture materials. On our trip round the hospital we were shocked to see that although we send up to date MIMS and BNF they were still using copies from 2003.
There also a lot of cases of intestinal worms and they asked us to send out albendazole. Inter Care does not routinely receive this and we would have to buy it.
The government supplies them with ARVs yet they do receive enough for their patients. At the moment they have 1,800 HIV positive patients and whilst the number is increasing it is now slowing down mainly due to extensive educational programmes. The government does not supply drugs for opportunistic infections and if able, patients pay for these.
They have an orphan support scheme which gives help to 210 orphans providing them with food and education (the word orphan often means a child who has lost one parent) many are orphans as a result of AIDS and are being cared for by grandparents or older siblings. The program encourages the children to remain within the community with family members and does home visits.
We were then taken to the canteen and provided with lunch.
On saying goodbye to the hospital staff we were then taken to Marengu Falls which is a tourist attraction of the area.
At first glance
Our first serious rural challenge by bus. Kibosho Hospital was quite some way, about 5-6kms off the main road. Up a long seemingly steep slippery muddy track to the Hospital, which when we reached it was clean and in good order. Despitehavig sent emails and a mobile phone message to say we were coming, no-one was apparently expecting us. This proved to be a common experience, as staff and mobile phone numbers change frequently. Although it was hoped Inter Care could meet up with the chief Pharmacist, he was not available. However, other senior clinical staff were located and they came to meet us pretty quickly once the administration staff realised who we were.
It was reassuring that these staff were very efficient and able to give us a realistic picture of how their hospital was run and the challenges it faces on a daily basis. We were given a thorough tour round the entire site and we felt able to ask questions throughout which certainly helped build up a picture of everyday activities which the hospital endeavours to provide.
What I witnessed
I was impressed that Kibosho had both eye and dental departments, with staff and equipment able to provide a level of service, albeit basic it helps to know which units could utilise pieces which are donated to Inter Care. Patients come from great distances, some even walking 20kms to get there, no public transport serves the Hospital.
Interestingly Dr. N Chombe, the Senior Doctor we spoke with, said that cardiovascular disease is now becoming an increasing problem. Malaria didn’t used to be a problem due to the height of the land around Kibosho, but as the mosquitos were breeding in the bushes in the area, it is now a problem. Sadly we learnt the biggest reason for admission and cause of death for the under 5’s was Pneumonia and protein malnutrition. For those over 5yrs old, the greatest reason for admission was for AIDS/HIV, hypertension, Pneumonia, and malaria. To know that a main cause of admission and death is due to pneumonia causes me to question why no vaccination is offered or available. Maybe it is and it is once again an issue of cost. I just don’t know.
Kibosho like other buildings in the area, has to do without electricity for 2 whole days a week. This almost seems unbelievable to us, for whom power is just a given. This therefore makes trying to treat patients very difficult, and I think hold fears for any emergency surgery needed. I was fascinated to know that many operations are actually Caeseration sections, done for a variety of reasons, bur especially if the baby is expected to be bigger than 4kgs. Thus the usage of suturing material is high and frequently unavailable through usual channels. Gloves, gauze, IV giving sets and cotton wool, also in short supply. The hospital frequently have to buy these goods locally, indeed we were shown the purchase book for these items. I think we were all shocked to see how much is spent on these basic items because they are unobtainable through other means.
I think our visit to Kibosho was somewhat of an awakening. It made us realise how few resources are available to such health care units. Also about how far they will go to make them stretch. The hospital itself was clean, and welcoming, those attending were quietly and patiently waiting to be seen and treated. We were able to start some of our questioning about the problems which HIV/AIDS. It is reassuring to know that AIDS/HIV pts, Maternity care and the care of the under 5’s is free. Furthermore, it is provided by the Govt. I was happy to be shown round the whole unit. I was pleased to talk with Dr NChombe who was taught by a close Doctor friend of mine in Tanzania.
Account by a volunteer of Inter Care
St Camilius Health Centre, Mvimwa
This health centre is situated in Zanzibar. The main religion on the Island of Zanzibar is different from mainland Tanzania in that the population is 99% Muslim. There are 2 Catholic Dispensaries; one of which is supported by Inter Care, the other we were going to visit with a view to start supporting the unit.
Unlike the health units in the Mara region close to the Kenyan border the issues here are different. The Diocese of Zanzibar is small. It had little income for medicines.
In summary, our support ensures that they are able to invest in their facilities. This is an excellent example of the way in which our aid is not merely alleviating acute need, but helping our partners to help themselves.
Kwediboma Health Centre
Location: 120km East from Korogwe
Catchment population: 9-10,000
Key staff met: Sr Matilda
Nearest referral unit: 60km at Handeni
Facilities: 26 Beds, 5 wards (1 Masai if needed). No Transport. Have Lab, maternal/child health clinic, Mobile outreach clinic (once per week to administer vaccines and antenatal) and TB and HIV/AIDs program.
Staff: 3 Clinical Officers, 1 Pharmacy Assistant, 2 Nurses which are also Midwives, 18 Nursing Assistants.
Workload: 70-80 deliveries/ month + 70+ outpatient/day and 200+ inpatients per month.
Disease pattern: Malaria, URTI, Typhoid, Pneumonia, UTI, Anemia, Hypertension, Diabetes.
Support from government and other sources: Government supply Vaccines, HIV & TB medication, they also provide wages. Receive some UK Church based financial support.
Baraki Health Centre
Based on a complex including a big working farm and a school; 60 kms from Musoma and supports a population of 29,860. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. The countryside surrounding the health centre was extremely barren and there had been drought here for 2.5 years. Like the other units in this area, tribal customs and culture are a huge issue for them as patients often arrive too late for treatment. Patients often cannot afford to pay and the government supply no assistance so they are struggling with resources such as medicines and equipment. Inter Care’s impact was very evident to see here how we do assist in their work.
Grounds at Baraki Health Centre
Communications have been a major problem when liaising with Inter Care in the past. We now have the correct information but need to take note of their request for us to communicate with WhatsApp. The level of English spoken here was excellent, as many of the Srs from the convent had lived in England. There was a Dutchman volunteering on the farm whilst we visited.
Bikira Maria Mama Wa Tumaini Health Centre, Masanga
When Inter Care first visited to check this unit’s suitability for support in September 2017 we found it a large health centre with 65 beds across 5 wards. Located in a very remote region next to the Kenyan border and on the edge of the Serengeti National Park, the unit is surprisingly difficult to access due to very poor quality roads.
This centre has 24 fully qualified staff. These include 2 resident doctors, 5 clinical officers, a pharmacist and pharmacy assistant, 4 nurses and 6 midwives. Even though there is plenty of staff, they still meet various challenges. This is because the centre serves a catchment population of in excess of 16,000 treating 6,250 adults per year, 5000 teenagers and 1100 under 12 years. They see 100 plus Outpatients and look after almost 300 Inpatients each month.
Sr Bibiane Nzali, Director / Administrator in charge of running the centre is from the Congo. We found her to be extremely driven towards delivering their health projects. Furthermore, she was proud of winning funding resulting in the construction of a new theatre block. It was almost complete at the time of our visit. And this upgrade will enable the Health Centre to apply for Hospital status.
As we toured the centre, Sr Bibiane told us about the cultural issues with witch doctors and local customs. They raise problems for patients receiving treatment in this region. In addition to this, malnutrition is a serious problem. The health centre is able to provide porridge to their overnight patients.
In some months they have difficulties being able to afford to buy enough medical supplies and medicines. We concluded post visit that the health centre comfortably met Inter Care’s criteria. We now regularly support with basic medicines and dressings, in line with their specific requests. Sr Bibiane commented that “they appreciate the help from Inter Care”, adding, “ local people are really poor and need to be helped”.
Rainbow Centre, Moshi
This health unit is on a main road near the Catholic Cathedral in Moshi town centre. It was started in the 1980s ostensibly as a ‘coffee-shop’ but, its true yet hidden function was a semi-official drop-in centre for individuals who suspected they had AIDS and wished to be tested discretely. Initially run ‘on a shoe-string’ by a retired male nurse, nowadays it is run by Sr Ubaldi Kessey, staffed by the medical department of Moshi and predominantly focuses on helping HIV / AIDS patients. Patients pay 1000 TZ Shillings (about 50p) for their test, thereafter treatment is free.
When Inter Care first visited we discovered staff and volunteers who are a very committed team, regularly going beyond the call of duty to help the patients they care for. During our conversations, we established that although the centre was well supported by other sponsors (who cover staff salaries) they still had a great need for quality medical supplies from Inter Care.
Our most recent visit in August 2016 we saw evidence of development of their key activities; Providing health education on HIV/AIDS to the community, counselling and testing services (5-10 people per day), home bed care services, supporting orphans with school fees contributions, medication, materials, books, food, providing seed funding for small income generation activities, and the renting out of the ‘original coffee shop’ for income generation.
Staff reported to us that from the local population of 267,000 spread over 25 villages, incidence of AIDs was around 5% which has thankfully decreased from 10% over the past eight years. A drought was causing further problems and they were in dire need of help, desperately in need of money for food for children in homes because sadly, some children live alone as parents/grandparents are all deceased due to HIV.
Inter Care medicines that have been given free of charge in the last year (2015-16) helped a total of 233 patients. The centre’s main problem is inadequate funding. Our donation of medicines indirectly helps Rainbow Centre financially as the money saved not having to buy medicines is redistributed to their other key activities.
Martha aged 43 years lives in Kibosho – a town and ward in the Moshi Rural district of the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. Martha is HIV positive. On top of this she is a widow whose husband died more than a decade ago from AIDs. At the time of his death he had left no will so unfortunately, she lost the family house as by law it went back to her deceased husband’s family who did not decide to help her. Consequently, she was left homeless with 5 children of which 3 are HIV positive.
The Rainbow Centre kindly helped Martha providing assistance in the form of food, school fees and most crucially helped her to help herself by donating a small grant which Martha used to buy a goat and equipment to brew banana beer. With the income Martha has raised from her business, at last she is now able to build her own home.
Kibara is a small rural hospital in a poor and deprived area. It is situated on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Victoria and is accessed by a 4 hour drive from the nearest city, Mwanza.
The hospital has 102 beds spread over its five wards serviced by 51 staff including 2 resident doctors and 16 nurses. They treat in the region of 400 Outpatients and care for 200 Inpatients each month. We find the key challenges faced by this hospital are similar to those faced by so many other partner health units Inter Care support – funding and infrastructure.
Kibara seriously lacks adequate and regular funding and has ongoing problems with its electrical supply. This was very evident to us when shown around wards with no lighting – we couldn’t really see what we were being shown (!). Staff bluntly explained “this is due to the cost of workers’ salaries and the Government failing to finance as was previously promised”.
Their medical needs are predominantly for antibiotics, which are in short supply due to the prophylactic treatment of HIV/AIDs patients, and them not being effectively supplied by the Government. In this part of the world hospitals have to pay excessive prices for their healthcare goods e.g. a single bandage cost £13. We know from experience that catheters and surgical equipment are also very expensive to buy in Tanzania and they too are much needed by this Hospital.
Overseas visits like these confirm to Inter Care’s management that our targeted medical aid is directly meeting local needs. Kibara continues to receive bi-annual consignments of aid to supplement their needs.
Mr. Nyamima, Nursing Officer in Charge commented “The support you give to us is very helpful to the hospital and its patients. Please continue to help the community improve their health status. Thanks, God bless you all”
Mercy is a 16-year-old young woman, who lives 20 km from Kibara Hospital. During her recent pregnancy she attended her local dispensary initially for her antenatal care, but then had to be admitted to the hospital for the childbirth.
The good news is that she had a healthy baby boy weighing 3kgs who is doing very well. The bad news was that she was suffering from pre-eclampsia – a condition which pregnant women can develop and is marked by high blood pressure in women who haven’t had high blood pressure before. Although Mercy went to full term her blood pressure was so high: 200/120++ that even 4 days post-delivery her blood pressure was still raised, also she still displayed significant oedema particularly around her ankles.
During her antenatal care, she had never once had any screening test for proteinuria as there were no strips available. This test would have enabled a fast diagnosis and treatment for the pre-eclampsia hence, avoiding the risk of serious complications which can affect both mother and baby. Luckily the outcome for Mercy and her baby was positive but it could just as easily not been. A simple urine test was all that was needed. Inter Care would like to help in the future by offering urine testing strips to the partner health units such as Kibara, to help young pregnant women just like Mercy.
It was clear evidence of what a Dispensary of similar size and catchment population (around 11,000) without Inter Care support looked like, versus one that does have our support.
Their facilities were lacking and what little they did have was of a poor quality. The British National Formula (BNF) that was on the Clinical Officer’s desk (who is also the resident Father of the community) was dated 2007, some 10 years out of date.
The unit is a typical Dispensary that fits the Inter Care model where we are able to improve the lives of its patients by providing resources such as medicines, small equipment and health care goods.
(Visit, September 2017)
St Camillus Dispensary, Tomondo
This is situated on the Island of Zanzibar. There are 2 Catholic Dispensaries; one of which is supported by Inter Care. Unlike the health units in the Mara region close to the Kenyan border the issues here are different.
The Diocese of Zanzibar is small and has little income to spend on medicines, yet we were pleasantly surprised, by the facilities at St Camillus Dispensary. This could have something to do with it being a building that they moved into as their previous Dispensary underwent an attack on the priests and the Dispensary and Church on Christmas Day in 2013 and was burnt to the ground.
It was clear though that the monies that they had saved on not needing to purchase medicines and health care goods that had been donated by Inter Care, meant they could invest in their facilities.
This is an excellent example of the way in which our aid is not merely alleviating acute need, but helping our partners to help themselves.
(Visit, September 2017)
Run by William Kahwezi this is a very remote dispensary off the North West part of Lake Victoria and next to the Ugandan border (4kms).
Inter Care started supporting the dispensary after an earthquake hit the region 2016. It suffered a lot of damage to the building and local infrastructure.
William the Clinical Officer In Charge, has been there for 46 years. He specialises in Ophthalmology and was the first medic to refer a patient to the Department of Health back in 1984. This patient turned out to be the first patient diagnosed with HIV in Tanzania.
William lives across the road. His wife used to deliver the babies and his two daughters also work there. It has a family run feel to it.
Zola, a 36 year old woman lived nearby with her four children and during the middle of night their home set on fire. The children managed to escape, however, Zola got badly burnt.
HOWEVER William was able to treat her with the dressings and medication Inter Care supplied and he truly believes that they actually saved her life.
She is now living in a UN emergency shelter with her children. She is coping relatively well and the scarring is minimal. Also it was a miracle she didn’t suffer any secondary infections.
(Visit, September 2017)
Makongoro Health Centre (AICT), Mwanza
A very active Evangelical body of people known as AICT (African Inland Church of Tanzania) has established several medical units in Northern Tanzania. Inter Care has been sending supplies through to Makongoro Health Centre since 1992. They collect directly through Mwanza airport as they have a permit to clear customs and they distribute the consignment between the units as needs dictate but the majority goes to the health centre we visited in Mwanza.
They have a high standard of care and integrity which was clear to see with the personnel we met. They, like the majority of units visited are struggling with finances. They have built an operating theatre ready for abdominal surgical procedures, including deliveries and caesarean sections but have run out of money to equip and staff it.
The equipment they did have was in a poor state and in need of replacement. A Canadian nurse (from World Renew) has been working there for 6 years and clearly has a big impact within the health unit. There were not many medicines on the shelves and they have had problems with the quality of certain medicines therefore have a policy, for certain conditions such as diabetes, only to buy the medicines from Europe.
(Visit, September 2017)
We travelled 120kms from the Main gate of the Serengeti to reach this Dispensary. It literally is miles from anywhere. The last 58km from Old Maswa is on a dirt track and the last 4kms from Maswa Town was on very rough road, which is clearly impassable in the rainy season.
50% of the local population are HIV positive and malaria is a big problem in this inland region. The local Parish Priest, Fr Albert Izengo with the help of 2 Clinical Officers, runs this 27-bedded unit. Sisters from Rwanda who have difficulties speaking Swahili and spoke no English support them.
Case Study: This was lucky for Bina who is 5 years old and her mother who live some 40kms away. Sadly, the upper part of Bina’s body was badly burnt after she fell playing near a fire and after some time being treated at a hospital she is now in the care of the Dispensary. Her family could no longer afford treatment at the hospital so went to Sayusayu for her recovery and physiotherapy. She has very little movement in either arm but they are currently working on trying to stretch her right arm using a simple cloth to tie her arm to stretch the skin. The left arm appeared to be much worse. Bina is having some pain relief when needed. Her recovery will take months and her parents are very poor.
She is receiving treatment with the help of Inter Care donating pain relief and dressings to treat the burns.
(Visit, September 2017)
Nyarambo Health Centre
This 18-bed unit supports a very widespread population of 24,833 who are mostly subsistent farmers living off less than $1 per day. The health centre is located 1 hour north of Tarime on a rough road. Inter Care donations are clearly very valued here too as the day before we arrived Sr Josephine (In Charge) had badly broken her wrist and, admitted to the nearest hospital (one hour’s drive away in Shirati), discharged herself to ensure that she was in attendance herself to meet with us.
This was most definitely the poorest centre we visited, as its facilities were in very poor condition, there were no sheets on the beds and the mattresses were torn to shreds. Although September is the quietest month in the region for patient numbers – there were many patients around this centre receiving treatment.
(Visit, September 2017)
Chikuni Mission Hospital
To find out more about this health centre, visit their official site
(images showing consignments received in 2019 and 2020)
Mumbezhi Rural Health Centre
To find out more about this health centre, visit their Official Site
(images sent to Inter Care via our partners at the health centre)
Kacema Children’s Home
Find out more via our partner’s facebook page
(Images sent to Inter Care via email in 2018)
LUWI Rural Mission Hospital, Ntambu
Our day at LUWI Hospital – June 2010
We left Mbehzi at around 9.00 am, accompanied by 2 visiting Sisters, Sister Francis, and Sister Vivienne. To say that these roads were not good was being kind, as we had 3 hours of rocking and bouncing in the back of the truck before reaching LUWI where we were met by Emmanuel Bwalya who is the administrator, accountant and general mechanic and also a trained driver of the motorbike ambulances (4) that they were given last year. They also have 2 ambulances. We also met with Simon Nkandu who is the pharmacist. Both of whom gave us a tour of the hospital and answered our questions.
The set up and the challenges
The hospital has 90 beds covering medical and surgical cases and one operating theatre. They see around 75 out patients per day and have 12 deliveries per month. The main illness seen are as expected Malaria related and the incidence of HIV/AIDs is increasing. Again this is thought to be a direct result of the influx of workers into the country due too the re-opening of the copper mines. They receive free ARVs from the government and from CHAZ (Christian Health Association Zambia) They also receive an amount of free medicines to treat opportunistic infections, however there is never enough.
They serve 4 outreach clinics. These are the furthest away from the hospital. They serve a population of around 2,000 and are visited each week for clinics for ANC, HIV/AIDs and PMCT. The hospital has 1 doctor, 1 Clinical officer, 8 Nurses including 2 midwives, 1 Lab technician, 1 Pharmacist and 1 Environmental technician. The nearest referral hospital is Mwinilunga which is 120K away.
Because of lack of funding they have had to withdraw their nutritional programme and only give supplements to the worst cases.
How we help
In summary, the hospital receives some medicines from the Sisters in Korea and Inter Care supports supplies around 30% of all medicines.
The hospital was spotless and organised well.
Finally, the Inter Care team then returned to Mbehzi where we spent the night. We continued on our journey the next day taking with us the gifts of Maize Pineapples and a live chicken. These were passed on to the sisters at the seminary.
(Visit, June 2010)
St Augustine Seminary and Dispensary
The seminary is a small community about 1 hour from Kabwe which consists of 120 seminarians and 35 families.
Sister Francis is the only nurse and they do not have a visiting Doctor, any patients that she is unable to treat are referred to the hospital at Kabwe. They do not have any in-patients; all patients are treated in their own homes.
Sister Francis treats simple illnesses such as sports injuries, Malaria and its resultant effects, Stomach problems and infections. There are also many cases of chest infections and asthma and eye infections due to the dust in the dry season.
The dispensary receives no support from Government but does receive some small donations from Holland.
The medicines sent by Inter Care represent 80% of all their medicines.
(Visit, June 2010)
St Mary’s School for the Blind
Sr Agnes the head teacher greeted us at the convent and we set off in the morning to visit the school. We saw all of the buildings including the classrooms and the braille room. This school currently has 85 children however they have the capacity for 100 children with visual impairments. Four of the children come from the Congo whilst others have come from regions up to 200km away.
At first glance
The school has a sick bay and this is where they dispense and store the medicines they receive from Inter Care.
We supply 100% of their medical requirements and if they had nothing, they would have to transport the sick child to the hospital at considerable cost and inconvenience to the school, even for mild conditions.
There are 3 beds in the sick bay and they have very basic requirements which include analgesics, antibiotics and dressings in the main.
We met the dispenser, Alice who cares for the sick children and had excellent record keeping.
At the school there is a nutritional programme for the younger children. This is a costly programme which is however a very necessary programme. The additional food given consists of high protein and porridge twice a week. Inter Care hand delivered £200 from the Ulverscroft Foundation directly to this programme which St Mary’s School was absolutely delighted with. The building structure is severely in need of repair due to cracked walls etc. There is a fundraising programme also underway by Sr Agnes – a very capable Sister.
The cooking facilities are poor and they use open fires and charcoal. There is no running water but there was a bore hole. Every Thursday between 6pm and 8pm the power is discontinued to be sold to another country.
After our tour
After our tour and lunch at the Convent, we went back to the school for a warm reception and welcome from the children. We were guests of honour at their closing ceremonies and we watched as the children, danced, drummed and sang. The pupils seem to have an innate sense of confidence as they go about their everyday duties. They carry out the cleaning and chores and whilst we were there we witnessed children sweeping classrooms and tidying dormitories.
They would not have such confidence and independence in their own family environment. The term ended the day we were there and the following morning at 3am, a bus with 32 children were waiting for us to join them on their journey back to their homes. Each child was dropped at a prearranged meeting point by their families and the majority of them lived near the town of Mansa which is some 170kms away and it is also where we flew out of to return to Lusaka.
(Saturday 18th Jun 2011)
Mulilansolo Rural Mission Hospital
This a well run but poor health centre with 60 beds. Their catchment area totals 23,000 however many come from outside this area because of the high levels of service.
They have 50-60 deliveries per month which is high considering they have only 3 members of staff and a lab technician none of which are midwives. Their workload is supplemented by local workers. The information that Inter Care holds on this health centre is up to date thanks to Sr Catherine’s efficiency.
They attract all types of cases apart from surgical. They refer surgical and cases beyond their competence to Chinsali Hospital 70 kms away. There is a vehicle crisis and they do not have a vehicle and rely on Chinsali Hospital to assist them. Whilst we were there, there were 2 maternity cases in need of urgent referral and they were hoping that the hospital would send an ambulance in time as they were both life threatening cases.
Furthermore, the wards cover general medical, male and female, then the children’s’ ward where we met 2 children with malaria who had travelled long distances to be treated. One child we met is called Mast aged 8 months who has suffered sores which have been neglected. They had travelled 36 kms to come to the health centre. The condition was made worse as the mother kept washing the sores keeping them from healing.
Firstly, the pharmacy is well organised yet poorly stocked. Inter Care’s contribution represents 40% of their clinical needs. We find that the Government supplies a wide range of free medicines which has been in place for many years. As a result, they do not charge the patients any money for any medicines that they are given. However they still have to purchase certain medicines which are either not on the Government list or they do not have enough of, due to the attendance of patients from outside the catchment area.
Finally, they have a separate building for their HIV dispensing which is sometimes used when maternity is busy.
(Visit, June 2011)
Kayambi Rural Mission Health Centre
At first glance
Kayambi Health Centre is situated in the north of Zambia in a very remote area. It has no electricity or water supply. It has a population catchment of 15,300 however, patients also frequently visit from outside the area. The centre sees approximately 2,100 Outpatients and 365 Inpatients per month.
Some things have changed since we last visited
When Inter Care last visited the health centre was run by Sr Clementina. She was pro-actively engaging with local government on weak infrastructure issues/ These included such road improvements and the lack of electricity in the area. However, she has now retired. Now run by Sr. Banda the health centre has a degree of self-sufficiency – benefiting from its own solar panels which supply only enough electricity for most of their daily needs but barring evening and during the night. Also on site is a small farm where they produce most of their own grain requirements.
Inpatients are treated in 66 beds in 5 types of wards. They don’t use the twenty beds in the isolation ward as they cannot afford to run it. The staff team is 3 clinical officers and 4 qualified nurses, two of whom are midwives who have to cope with the workload, which includes supporting 10 outreach clinics as far as 80km away. The nearest referral hospital is in the city of Kasama – 150 km away on roads that are impassable in the rainy season.
Upon Inter Care’s last visit we witnessed just how remote and how needy the health centre actually is. The experience left a lasting impression in all our minds! They told us how despite them being registered to receive medicines from the government, this supply is often withdrawn if somewhere else has a ‘greater’ need. We saw that the Supplies from Inter Care in a separate storeroom. Were told they often need to use them as they are so desperately short of their own.
Kayambi bi-annually receives medical products including medicines and dressings from Inter Care Sr. Banda commented “We really appreciate the service you are rendering to these vulnerable people living in hard to reach areas”.
Inter Care are particularly grateful to Quorn Church for directly supporting this clinic.
(Visit, June 2011)
St Fidelis Hospital
St Fidelis Hospital is part of the Archdiocese of Kasama. This a large city in Northern Zambia. The hospital is situated at the end of a ‘particularly uncomfortable’ 45-minute drive from Kasama. We went over some very rough roads indeed (!). St Fidelis is part of the small community of Chilubula. The hospital has a church, a convent and a school. The hospital serves approximately 14,500 people, the remotest of whom have to travel up to 80km to see a nurse or doctor. In addition, many other people travel to St Fidelis Hospital from outside their catchment area for treatment.
How they are run
On our last visit, we found they had recently finished building a new operating theatre and opened a dental clinic. The hospital is efficiently run with a pervading sense of discipline and order by Sr Elizabeth Chanda. The staff consisting:
- 2 doctors
- 7 clinical officers
- 1 medical assistant
- 1 pharmacy assistant
- 16 qualified nurses
- 5 midwives
- 1 laboratory technician
Owing to both the long distance (35km) to the nearest referral hospital (Kasama General) and the appalling state of the Zambian roads, between them this team deal with all but the most serious cases.
The hospital has 100 beds over 6 types of wards – Female, Medical, Children, Maternity, High Cost and Casualty. They receive between 20-40 stock deliveries per month and also support four out-reach clinics up to 40 km away. They showed us their well-equipped laboratory and explained that they aspired to offer 3 meals per day unfortunately; this was not always possible simply due to lack of finances. The other challenge the hospital faces includes the distance required to access and purchase medicines. They are also very expensive.
Inter Care medical supplies contribution made up 40% of their medical needs which are clearly significant. For example, they had not long received a consignment from us when we visited however, all of the paediatric syrup and creams had gone in the first two weeks! Inter Care continue to supply medical aid such as basic medicines and dressings on a bi-annual basis.
Mporokoso School for the Blind
Mporokoso School, founded in 1961 is very remotely situated 185 km from Kasama (a large city in Northern Zambia). When driving from Kasama it can take a full days travel to reach the school because of the poor condition of the roads. Upon your eventual arrival, you may be greeted by up to 172 students. These are children who are all either blind, partially sighted or with albinism (50% sighted) and are looked after by Sr Hilary, the headmistress of the school.
These young people face a unique life challenge – i.e. many of the children suffer from sunburn due to the lack of pigmentation in their skin and obviously there are a large number of eye diseases. A large proportion of the children have been left blind or with failing sight as a result of living in the Kapata region where many eye infections are easily picked up from the lake water. The school makes all its own Braille books by translating textbooks and reading books including an edition of the bible. Key staff S. Charity and Mr Wilson treat any and all of the health problems encountered by the children and their families in the immediate area.
When we visited
When Inter Care staff last visited we joined in with some of the class activities. The work of the school and the teachers there is amazing. Our staff remarked afterwards “The children have such an air of confidence about them” and “we could see in person what good work is being carried out there” With medicines being very costly and located such a great distance from the school Inter Care supply 100% of their medical needs and continue to do so.
Special thanks to The Ulverscroft Foundation for their on-going support donating to Inter Care every year since 2011. Their funding enables us to send much needed medical aid and equipment to both St Mary’s and Mporokoso. The are both Schools for the Blind in Zambia. Mporokoso received a grant of £2,500 donated in April 2017. This went exclusively towards supporting the two schools for visually impaired children.
These schools received 2 consignments each containing; range of basic drugs and included items such as sunglasses, large print books, blankets, teddies, disinfectant wipes and medicated shampoo. These types of items are larger and much heavier than compared with medications. They cost more to send. These items are needed for the care of these children. Many of them have Albinism. These children live together in a ‘boarding school’ situation to protect them.
Sr Mwansa recently commented “Thank you to Inter Care for the wonderful work rendered to our institution by providing us with medicines and other items related to health. Please keep the Spirit”