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Medical challenges

HIV/AIDS

Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS has become the most widespread disease in the countries south of the Sahara Desert. As for Tanzania, 7% of the population have been infected as well. Compared to other countries in southern Africa, where the percentage amounts to 40%, the figure in Tanzania is relatively low. Nevertheless, HIV/AIDS is the most frequent cause of death, also in St. Francis Hospital. The hospital is provided with a Chronic-Disease-Clinic. This is a unit for chronically ill people, which has been offering HIV therapy for more than 2 years, according to the Tanzanian national guidelines. So far, results have been quite encouraging: About 1300 people have been included in the national program, about 700 of them have been treated with HIV drugs. Unfortunately, many patients are still too late for the HIV test, so that medicaments have no effect any more. Some patients are taken to the hospital only in the final stage of the disease and pass away very soon. Long distances and bad roads in the districts are another big problem. Patients coming to the therapy from villages up and down the river have to cover distances up to 120 km. Besides, for many people travelling costs are too high. That is why they are not able to accept the therapy. Admittedly, HIV drugs are free, but medicaments for side–diseases must be paid. The thing is, the majority of those concerned cannot afford them.

...Kikumui

Tuberkulosis

Tuberculosis is gaining ground, especially in the sequence of AIDS

Malaria

Kilombero District ranks among the regions with the highest Malaria infection rate worldwide. In close vicinity to the River Kilombero, the number of infected mosquito bites is supposed to be 2000 per person and year. These drastic conditions have given rise to widely designed information campaigns about Malaria prevention by impregnated mosquito nets, resulting in a remarkable reduction of Malaria in the region, which forced the scientists of Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) to transfer the facilities for the development of a Malaria vaccine to Bagamoyo, a city 75 km north of Dar es Salaam. Nevertheless: Even if adults don’t fall ill as seriously as children, Malaria is still one of the most important causes of death.

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Accidents

The main causes of accidents are completely different from those in Europe. In Ifakara, life is in the first place a struggle for existence. Hardly anybody can afford to do a lot of sports, both for of lack of time and money. So one of the most important European reasons for accidents does not exist. Instead, injuries caused by falls, burns and animal bites come first. Falls usually happen during the coconut harvest. Falls from the coconut tree are the most common cause of paraplegia. Burns, on the other hand, are the most frequent and serious kinds of household accidents: children sometimes fall into the open fire places or their clothes catch fire. This leads to heavy burns with terrible consequences. Finally, bites from crocodiles, monkeys, hippos and snakes, but also lions (from the near Selous Game Reserve) are great medical challenges. Since traffic density in the Ifakara area is lower than in Europe, traffic accidents happen less frequently. However, many cars, motorbikes and even bicycles are in a very bad condition, mostly heavily overloaded and often badly lit in the night. This can also lead to severe accidents.

Lion-attack in Selous game reserve: 2 people were killed, others were mutilated

Heart and Circulation Diseases

In the first place stroke and high blood pressure, but also heart attacks.

Diabetes

The number of Diabetes patients is on the increase. By Tanzanian law, the government is obliged to provide patients with Insulin free of charge. Reality, however, is different. So some patients cannot be treated over a longer period.

Pregnancy- and Delivery Complications

Owing to nearly complete lack of antenatal care, kidney failure and eclampsia can be seen quite frequently. This results in comparatively high mother- and infant mortality rates.

Leprosy

In the past ten years the number of leprosy patients has remarkably decreased. New cases nonetheless occur. Today, leprosy patients can get outpatient treatment, at least theoretically. In the Leprosy Hospital there are still many old patients with burnt-out leprosy, i.e. the disease has led to loss of limbs. These patients have become heavily disabled and must be cared for for the rest of their lives.

Other frequent diseases

Anaemia: Mostly in connection with Malaria or Malnutrition Diarrhoea: Especially in the rainy season, Typhoid and Cholera can occur Meningitis Intestine Parasites

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