Stories from the Field: Tanzania Medical Trip

by Erin Asher
WaterStep’s Director of Manufacturing Dr. Joe Jacobi, teamed up with WaterStep Medical Director Dr. Bill Smock and Foxes’ NGO to travel to Tanzania with 13 medical students from the University of Louisville to provide medical and dental services to the citizens of the Mufindi region of the country.
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While there, Dr. Jacobi was able to offer health education and safe water options to address the root causes of medical issues.
Tanzania is currently the 13th poorest country in the world and the evidence of this claim was widespread as Dr. Jacobi and the rest of the team arrived in country. Igoda Children’s Village, the local host and home to Dr. Jacobi and the rest of the medical team, was about 90 miles from the nearest paved road and most citizens were sustenance farmers. Dr. Jacobi noted that there was “a lack of education of a wide variety of health issues” in Mufindi after conducting dental clinics from last month from July 12th to 20th.
tanzania joe 2Most citizens boil their water to ensure the removal of dangerous pathogens and bacteria—a time consuming method. Not only does boiling water take time, but also requires labor for the continual collection of firewood. Open fires are a common method for cooking in Tanzania, and Dr. Jacobi and the team saw the result of the dangers this method offers with a variety of burn victims serviced in the clinics.
A lack of health education coupled with working with open fires results in many burn victims being treated incorrectly or not treated at all. Dr. Jacobi told the story of one man who had almost been paralyzed by burns at both his knees due to incorrect treatment of the burns. Countless similar situations were seen just within the clinics, and Dr. Jacobi agreed that basic health and sanitation education would improve circumstances exponentially.

Local children play with the WaterBall donated to the village.
Local children play with the WaterBall donated to the village.

As it was time to pack up and leave, Dr. Jacobi and Dr. Smock along with the medical students felt that while they had serviced many individuals for the better, there is still much work within the country in medical services and with water. Dr. Jacobi left Mufindi with two chlorinators and two WaterBalls. The technology, paired with simple health and hygiene education will lead to healthier, longer lives.
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