Rural missionary hospital located on the edge of the Great Rift Valley in the very centre of Tanzania approximately 100km west from Dodoma, the administrative capital of the country. The location is rural with stunning views over the valley especially at sunrise. The hospital focuses on obstetrics but also deals with general adult and paediatric medicine both in the out-patient department and as in-patients. Cases requiring specific investigations or specialist management are generally referred to St Gaspar’s Hospital at Itigi.
The hospital comprises an outpatient clinic, antenatal clinic, one operating theatre, a laboratory that runs basic tests, when electricity allows, as well as the inpatient wards and an HIV/AIDS care and treatment centre. The hospital has one ultrasound scanner and an x-ray machine, (not currently working at the time this information was gathered). The hospital provides antenatal and postnatal care to the surrounding community with mobile clinics to 12 different locations every month to weigh babies, give vaccinations and do antenatal checks. There is currently no mains electricity although there are plans in place to link Kilimatinde to the Tanzanian mains. The running water supply is also somewhat erratic.
The hospital has 3 Tanzanian medical doctors supported by a number of clinical officers, nurses, pharmacists and administrative personnel. A significant proportion of the nursing care on the wards is performed by students from the attached nursing school which also yields opportunities for visitors to become involved in teaching the nursing students either in a formal or informal setting.
The official medical language is English and as such all the medical notes are written in English. In addition, the teaching occurs in English and the daily morning handover/MDT meeting is mainly performed in English. However the official language of Tanzania is Swahili and as such it is common for conversations and meetings in the hospital to switch seamlessly between English and Swahili. Furthermore, the vast majority of patients in the hospital only speak Swahili or their specific tribal language. Although Swahili is a relatively easy language to pick up whilst in Tanzania, it would benefit you greatly to learn some basic medical phrases or questions and potential responses before travelling.
Elective students from medicine and midwifery are very welcome. The hospital has visiting doctors from Moshi on a monthly basis covering a range of medical and surgical specialties. For specific information on current requirements for individual specialties please contact the Kilimatinde Trust to liaise with the hospital.
A public bus can be caught from Dar-es-Salaam all the way to the town of Solya where the hospital ambulance can arrange to meet you to transfer you the remaining 5km to Kilimatinde Hospital.
House for visitors available with 3 separate bedrooms. A cook is provided for 3 meals a day. The hospital requests a donation to cover the costs of the cook and the food and drinks. Facilities are basic with limited running water and no mains electricity but there are solar-powered lights for the evening.
Very flexible. For medical elective students, would advise a minimum of 3-4 weeks to allow time to fully experience life in rural Tanzania.
Specific visas are required depending upon the nature of the volunteering, studying or work that is to be undertaken. Please check the Tanzanian High Commission website for further details or contact the Kilimatinde Trust for advice.
The hospital itself is quite small despite providing medical assistance for an immense area of central Tanzania. While at the hospital I mainly divided my time between the paediatric/female ward and the male ward, participating (and sometimes running) ward rounds and deciding on treatment plans for the patients. I also spent some time in the outpatient department, which is rather like a GP surgery, the laboratory and the operating theatre. The latter was mostly used for emergency Caesarean sections and occasional minor surgery, such as hernia repairs. There is also a rota for visiting specialists from the larger hospitals and during our time an ENT surgeon and anaesthetist visited running clinics and providing operations that could be conducted with the limited resources. My favourite part of the elective were the mobile clinics. These occurred twice a week and involved travelling out in either the hospital 4×4 ambulance or in a small plane to a very rural village where we weighed babies and helped with their vaccinations.
The most challenging part was the distinct lack of resources for the hospital to use to treat patients, which limits what can be done for them. This means that there is not always a lot to be done in the hospital as practical procedures can only be done if you have the required equipment. If the aim of your elective is to gain experience of practical procedures and spend lots of time in the operating theatre then this wouldn’t fulfil that. However, I had an amazing time experiencing life in rural Africa and it has taught me about a completely different type of healthcare provision. All the staff at the hospital were incredibly friendly and I met some truly inspirational people during my time there.
I would highly recommend this hospital to anybody who wants to get immersed in life in rural Africa and experience medicine in a completely different setting to that which we see here in the UK.
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I spent 6 weeks at this hospital for my medical elective in 2012 and had a truly amazing time. The staff are all incredibly friendly and welcoming making you feel completely at home.
During my time at the hospital I became involved in the day-to-day work of the hospital ranging from paediatric and adult medicine ward rounds, helping with emergency c-sections, learning to perform basic tropical medicine blood tests in the laboratory and anything else that needed doing. I also became involved in the medical outreach projects, getting to travel to some rural locations by 4-wheel drive and aeroplane in order to provide basic healthcare services.
The hospital is a small rural hospital and so the workload when I was there was very variable. If you are looking for a medical elective where you will be rushed off your feet, doing lots of surgery and seeing countless patients then this is not the placement for you. However if you are interested in seeing rural east Africa, becoming a part of a local community, learning about basic tropical medicine and coping with all the difficulties that rural life with no electricity and running water brings then this is the placement for you.
The hospital is a missionary hospital supported by the local diocese of the RIft Valley. If you wish, then there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the local Anglican Church community and meet the local Bishop as well as enjoying the beautiful singing at the local churches.
The hospital really appreciates medical students coming as they feel that both the nursing students who are attached to the hospital and the other medical staff working at the hospital learn a lot from overseas visitors. If you plan to go then please contact the hospital in advance to see what equipment requirements they currently have and so what you may be able to take over with you.
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