Tanzania has more than 50 years of independence but still faces many challenges in the health and education sector. The ratio of doctor to patient is 1 to more than 26,000. The situation is more severe in rural, hard to reach areas.
Dr. Eliasa Mkongo (founder of Ijue Tanzania) has 10 years experience in the health sector as a certified clinician specialised in general surgery and endoscopic treatments. He is currently involved in private practice, teaching and philanthropy. Private practice allows him to have time to engage himself in community volunteering services in rural areas. Dr. Eliasa, together with a team of other clinicians make quarterly visit to rural areas and provide clinical service at no cost.
Attending patients in rural parts of the counrty has given him an opportunity to observe the challenges in the health care system especially at that level of service. Common challenges include travelling distances to seek higher level care i.e. from specialist and in addition to that, the need to visit more than one facility for consultation over the same ailment.
“I remember one particular patient who was seen in four different health facilities (dispensary, health centres and hospital) over a period of 2 years. In the end he had to travel all the way to Dar Es Salaam which was 600km from his village, only to be diagnosed with a treatable tumour.”
Travelling long distances for an access to health care service is caused by the shortage of specialist doctors, supporting staff and the scarcity of proper, high quality equipment.
It is possible for every doctor in Tanzania to contribute their knowledge, time and service to rural communities towards people who have little or no access to a proper health care system. This can be achieved by volunteering few weeks in the year to community service.
“It is our duty as a nation to support the government in meeting some of its goals” says Dr Eliasa.
For this sole reasons, Dr Eliasa has been inspired to form an organisation that can raise funds to purchase medical equipment and establish a community service program to support lower level community health care facilities His dream is to build a network of doctors, nurses and other medical related workers which can improve the Tanzanian health care system through a sustainable volunteer program. He is hoping of a change not in the short run, but also to establish a better access for all people, regarding of their income, in the long run.
“Together we can change and save lives throughout the country, lets volunteer now!” (Dr. Eliasa Mkongo)