The Doctor Bank has been operating for 20 years now, sending volunteer Finnish healthcare professionals to Tanzania. Currently, we are a part of the ‘Healthy Tanzania’ project, for which we have received development co-operation funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, in addition to the funding from Rotary.
The goal of the project is transferring knowhow to Tanzanians so that they possess the necessary skills by the end of the project. The target hospital is Ilembula Regional Hospital in Southern Tanzania where we focus on mother and child health and the prevention and treatment of disabilities, as well as related guidance. Our partners are Diakonia University of Applied Sciences and Disability Partnership Finland, who are working in the same area as the Ilembula Institute of Health and Allied Sciences and the INUKA rehabilitation centre. The Finnish Christian Medical Society participates in the project by teaching palliative care and organising an IT project.
We are hoping to have gynaecologists, paediatricians, paediatric neurologists, nurse midwifes, nannies and physiatrists/physiotherapists join the project, as well as general practitioners for the open care side, meaning the village level, and public health nurses for mother and child clinics. Dental health will also be a part of the programme. We would love to see a doctor–nurse team join the project at the same time. The project participants’ main job is teaching local professionals at a clinic or in open health care both by giving lectures and showing, in practice, how healthcare operations should be developed. Before you leave for the project, it is recommended you prepare a few lectures that you can give multiple times. In Ilembula, we request you examine and report the conditions and establish guidelines both for the next participant and for developing the operations. The hospital’s standard of equipment is low, and the education level of the local healthcare professionals is not as high as in Finland, for example.
You should also consider these aspects when preparing lectures. Power outages are common, and telecommunications may not function properly.
The Doctor Bank will pay your trip, permits in Tanzania, vaccines and medication, insurance and daily allowances, but not salary, since the operations are based on volunteering. The Doctor Bank of Finland’s Rotary Service will help you with permit applications and travel arrangements. There are three local coordinators in Ilembula Hospital who take care of transports to and from the airport and reserve accommodation for which the participants pay a small fee to the hospital. They also help you with any daily problems. The lectures are in English. The local staff has greeted the arrivals with excitement.
Tanzania is a relatively safe African country, and the people are usually friendly. The Doctor Bank does not recommend Ilembula as a family destination and will not pay the trips of the participant’s family, but it is still possible to travel there with family. We will find you a travel date that suits you. Our volunteers have felt their work was meaningful, and they have received new views and pleasant experiences. The volunteering takes place in a peaceful region where the Doctor Bank has operated for years. The participants do not need to face problems alone: our coordinators both on the site and in Finland will help you with any issues.
More information: Finland’s Rotary Service/Doctor Bank
Virpi Honkanen, chair
Phone +358-50-356 1101
mail: Suomen Rotarytoimisto, Iso Roobertinkatu 9 C, 00120 Helsinki