A Clinic in Tabora, Tanzania, East Africa
Planning for St Philip’s Clinic began in 1999 as an initiative of the Anglican Diocese of Tabora in Tanzania , with the aim of establishing health care facilities within the diocese. The clinic was opened in 2001 and serves a population of 2 million in the wider region and 200,000 in the Tabora municipality. People from the far reaches of the region seek treatment at this clinic because of high quality service. The work involves clinics for general outpatients, people living with HIV/aids and maternity patients.
Out patients waiting to be seen in the HIV/AIDS clinic.
The Diocese covers 96,000 Sq km of rural western Tanzania, or about one tenth of the area of mainland Tanzania. Most people are involved in subsistence agriculture and are amongst the poorest people on the planet. The Diocese ministers to the whole person through evangelism, training and development. St Philip’s clinic comes under the Development Department of the Diocese.
Dr Ruth Hulser, seconded from CMS (Church Mission Society) UK, is in charge of the clinic and early in 2009 wrote about 4 miracles.
Miracle 1 occurred at a time of acute staff shortage and work overload. A doctor rang from UK to say he could arrive in one week and to ask if there would be work for him. He arrived in one week, a miracle when compared with the usual 6-12 months that it normally takes for new staff to arrive. Dr Jim, a retired GP, carried a large part of the medical burden at a time when Dr Ruth truly needed help.
Miracle 2 came the day Jim arrived. Ruth had watched many people die of HIV/AIDS but had no means of helping them. Only 10% of those infected with the virus accepted referral to the regional hospital. Out of the blue, the government invited three staff members to a seminar to prepare for certification of an HIV/AIDS centre, to be run from the Tabora Clinic. This approval included free government drug supplies of antiretroviral therapy. Ruth wrote,
“Since our return, we have started the new service – despite the fact that we have no funding for staff, no real space (we move beds out of a ward for every clinic) and borrow furniture. There is no stationery, but we do have the drugs.”
Miracle 3 the paralysed raised to walk again!
A 14 year old boy, Luka, with untreated epilepsy, had a fit and fell out of a tree, breaking his neck. He walked 10 km to hospital where the fracture wasn’t diagnosed and returned home. After 2 months his father tried to “straighten” his neck, resulting in complete paralysis. They took him back to hospital – on a bike – where an x-ray was taken but no treatment given except medicine for epilepsy.
Miracle boy Luka, paralysed in bed and later walking
When Ruth saw the x-ray she said that his neck and head appeared to be totally disconnected and that he also had malaria and pneumonia. It was unbelievable that he was still alive and they gave the family no hope for survival. However, they treated his malaria and pneumonia, arranged various items of equipment and tried to teach his mother to care for him. Ruth asked her home church to pray. Neurosurgeons in UK advised about fixing the head to prevent it moving and causing further damage. The boy slowly began to improve.
“I cried again when I saw him get up and walk after more than 3 months in bed. God pulled Luka back from the brink, not only from death (as he should have really died in that fall) but also from permanent paralysis: an African with development delay, socially outcast because of both this and his epilepsy, and also unlikely to become socially or politically “relevant”, the least of the least by the world’s reckoning. But if God can and will do that for Luka, can not you and I also be sure of His redeeming mercies, His miraculous powers and His will/ready love to relieve us and set us free as well?”
Miracle 4: the car
“we never expected firstly a car or secondly a new car. But we have it…all the staff are thanking God for it and praying for it to become a blessing to all whom we serve.”
In subsequent correspondence, MMA discovered that privacy and soundproofing in the area designated for the new clinic for HIV/AIDS patients had been semi-achieved with curtains and a radio. Extra space had been provided by cutting windows and a door in an old shipping container. MMA asked if they had thought of extending the outpatient area to make a room for the new clinic and what would be the cost for such a building. The answer came back that “it would be a godsend to have a purpose built room”. The cost of the room, furniture and salaries of 2 counsellors for 2 years will cost $35,000.
After notifying Ruth of MMA’s decision to fund this work, she responded:” I am totally flabbergasted: we have not at all counted on this: and yes we need this! It is amazing and a great gift to further our work!”
St Philip’s Clinic in Tabora is receiving funding from MMA’s Bequest Fund.
Photos provided by Dr Ruth Hulser with permission to use for information and fundraising