Photo Album July 2018

Download Photo Album as PDF: Photo Album July 2018

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PRESS RELEASE – JULY, 2018 – ARUSHA, TANZANIA

Download press release as PDF: Press Release Arusha Rotary July 2018

Figure 1Golden Sunrise Rotarian DR.  NANYOKYE NASIRA KIDOKO hands over a Cradle blood pressure device to TIFFANY MAHON, a volunteer nurse at Flying Medical Service, while MELANIE FINN of the Natron Healthcare project looks on

The small state of Vermont might be on the other side of the world, but thanks to the global community of Rotary, International, a group of Vermonters is able to improve maternal health in remote areas of Longido District, Tanzania.  The St. Johnsbury Rotary of Vermont, USA, donated $1000 to the Natron Healthcare Project for the purchase of 20 Maternova Cradle blood pressure devices to be used in clinics and bomas throughout Longido.  These hardy, easy-to-use sphygmomanometers will be used by midwives, clinical officers and others on the front line of maternal care to monitor the blood pressure of mothers-to-be.

The Golden Sunrise Rotary Club of Arusha helped facilitate the donation.  The Cradles are donated by NHP to the District Medical Office of Longido.

The Natron Healthcare Project operates in two remote villages near Lake Natron, and has piloted the use of the Cradles with 12 illiterate traditional birth attendants.  “We were hearing about many deaths from pre-eclampsia,” says co-founder and co-director, Dr. Penny Aeberhard.  “Increasing blood pressure in the third trimester is a strong indicator that things are going wrong, and the mother needs to be taken quickly to primary care.  As there are no health services near these villages, pregnant women are almost wholly dependent on their TBAs for antenatal care.”

The Cradles give numeric digital readings, but also simple lights indicating whether a blood pressure is normal, in a warning zone, or dangerously high.  NHP trained TBAs in Magadini and Wosiwosi have already referred several pregnant women to primary care.

“We train the TBAs to take blood pressure throughout the pregnancy, but with particular care in the third trimester,” says Dr. Aeberhard.  “The lights are green for a normal systolic pressure below 130, then amber until 149, then red.  Because these communities are extremely remote, we teach the TBAs to refer immediately on amber, because it will take time to organize transport.  If they wait until red, this is often too late, especially for pre-eclampsia and hemorrhage.”

TBAs then work with other community members to evacuate the mother.  Without reliable transport  – and, during the rainy season, without roads – the villages often rely on the Flying Medical Service to fly in for evacuations.  FMS has also received several of the Cradles from Dr. Aeberhard’s organization, and finds they are quick, accurate and easy to use at the outreach clinics they provide throughout some of northern Tanzanian’s remotest areas.

“Ideally, every woman gives birth in primary care,” says Melanie Finn, Dr. Aeberhard’s partner at NHP.  “But if we want to save lives, right now, in these very distance places, we need to be practical.”  Finn lives in Vermont and was approached by the St. Johnsbury Rotary when Rotarians heard about her work with predominantly Masai communities in Natron.  Improving antenatal care is deeply personal for her.  She lived in Magadini for three years, witnessing the difficulties local people – especially mothers and children – had in accessing healthcare and understanding their healthcare issues.  She and Dr. Aeberhard founded NHP in 2008.

“Rotary is such an amazing organization of individuals from all backgrounds and professionals who are committed to making the world a better place,” Finn adds.  “We have really enjoyed connecting these two Rotaries, across thousands of miles.  Thank you, Rotarians, for your gift trough us to the DMO  and the people of Longido.  This will save lives!”

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April 2017: TBA and Family Planning Interventions

In April, Mel and Penny held workshops for Traditional Birth Attendants and began a Family Planning intervention.  Penny worked with 12 TBAs during a 5-day workshop, improving skills, sharing knowledge, and connecting with primary care health services in Longido District Hospital.  Mel, meanwhile, was in Magadini and Wosiwosi meeting with men to assess and discuss their attitudes toward family planning and prescriptive contraception; she’ll return in November to begin a contraception education module for both men and women based on this work.

The TBAs completed their training by creating the “Scorpion Song” which listed the six symptoms that require evacuation to primary care:  pre-clampsia, breach presentation, traverse presentation, severe post-partum bleeding,  twins (especially if there had been an issue in a previous pregnancy), placenta previa, previous problem pregnancies, very young mothers.

The men working with Mel were curious and concerned about contraception, they were keen for more information.  In general, they acknowledged socio-economic changes that make smaller families more desirable, but they had little practical understanding for the cultural, financial and climatic realities beyond their grazing and trading lands.  They were frustrated by this.

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Young Fundraisers donate to NHP

Penny’s grandchildren, Finn and Mali Jaschinski-Aeberhard, raised more than £40 for NHP from a pizza, cookie and card sale they held in their neighborhood park.
Thank you!

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Report from Dr. Steve Friberg: Second annual eye clinics in Gelai Bomba, Wosiwosi and Makat

treating-eye-patientsIn May, working again with our partners at the Lutheran clinics, we held our second annual eye clinics in Gelai Bomba, Wosiwosi and Makat.  Dr. Steve Friberg reports:

“Approx 50 pts were treated for minor problems.  10 pts are waiting for surgery at KCMC [Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center): 6 cataracts, 1 trauma, 1 glaucoma, 1 lid rotation, 1 advanced pterigium.   Four of the referred patients were from Wosiwosi.   We were happy that more complicated patients could be referred forward this time.”

We are also able to facilitate transport and partly subsidize hospital treatment.  HOWEVER, we must now fundraise for next year’s clinic.

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Dr. Penny’s May 2014 Report to Dr. Amos Mremi, Longido District Medical Officer

jo-and-rehema-in-makat

Dr. Jo and Rehema meet with a mother and her sick daughter

In May, Penny visited Makat with Dr. Jo Moore, a British doctor with a strong interest in public health education and women’s health issues.  In Makat for over a week, they conducted a series of workshops including basic eye care, the importance of hand-washing, anemia, STD and HIV transmission.  They also held training for Traditional Birth Attendants.  A group of women walked 30 miles from Wosiwosi to attend this.  Rehema Simon, a masai woman from a nearby village now working in Arusha, played a key role as translator.

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The Rankin Wosiwosi Desk

mark-with-desk-prototypeIn 2009, Penny’s brother, architect Mark Rankin, accompanied her on a field visit to Lake Natron. Heading for Wosiwosi, they got badly stuck in mud, and Mark found himself clambering up a wild hillside trying to get high enough for cell phone reception. He never found it; but he did find something more important: a deep appreciation for the beauty of Natron’s rugged landscape, and for the resilient people who welcomed him.

Later, in Wosiwosi’s simple mud and wattle nursery, local women presented him with an orange and white beaded crucifix. He wore this until his untimely death from cancer on March 9th, this year.

While in Wosiwosi and Makat, Mark first conceived the idea of a school desk appropriate for such remote locations. Currently, the desks used in both villages (and donated through the NHP and Mark’s Rotary Club in Godalming, UK) are bulky, heavy, expensive and difficult to transport. Mark envisioned a lightweight, slot-together design, with sustainable material either sourced regionally, or cheaply imported. If successful, the desk could have universal application.

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