Students from Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) experienced the challenges of delivering healthcare in a low-income environment when they spent a week in Tanzania where they had the chance to work on public health projects.
First-year medical students Zaid Shahrori, Fawzi Zghyer, Abivarma Chandrakumaran, Sudarshan Srivats and Saad Sameer, and fourth-year student Zahra H. Rahman spent a week in Mwanza in northern Tanzania, where they worked alongside local medical students and medical residents from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in the US. The students provided volunteer service work for Tanzanian initiative called RASA (Reach All, Serve All), a licensed governmental organization that provides community-screening services to inhabitants that live in remote locations in northern Tanzania in the Lake District that surrounds Lake Victoria.
The team was joined by Swahili-speaking volunteer health care workers and screened more than 1,200 inhabitants who came to one of three mobile clinics, which were set up near schools in the district of Sengeremo and the market place in Mwanza city.
Student Zaid Shahrori said: “Visiting Tanzania made me realize how fortunate we are to have access to very good healthcare services in Qatar. We saw people suffering very severely from diseases that are relatively easy and cheap to prevent with vaccinations.”
The WCM-Q students were guided on the trip by WCM-Q’s Dr. Stella Major, Associate Professor of Family Medicine in Clinical Medicine, and Faten Shunnar, Acting Director of Student Affairs.
For three days, the team conducted screening activities for close to 500 men and women each day. The screenings involved a brief cardiac risk-factor assessment, a height and weight check to determine the body mass index, and measurement of blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Patients were counseled on modifiable risk factors, and were referred on to receive further care when necessary.
In Mwanza the students also visited Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences, a center of excellence in medical training supported by Weill Cornell. The training center is affiliated with Bugando Medical Centre, a 900-bed referral hospital, which the students also visited. They also learnt about the risks albino communities in East Africa face, and how local security forces work with healthcare agencies to enhance community awareness about albinism, and ensure that these vulnerable communities are cared for by the provision of adequate sun protection treatments, as well as safety from abuse.
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