At the beginning of 2021, the German Fund for the Blind approached us with the question of whether we would participate in the construction of an eye clinic in Tanzania. Initial discussions with the DBHW then set out the joint framework that was to describe the path to this goal.
The most important question was to clarify the need for ophthalmological care in Tanzania in general and in the Tanga region in particular. Basically it was known that especially the untreated cataract has to be classified as a widespread disease, which in quite a few cases leads to the loss of eyesight. However, the question of the actual magnitude could only be clarified on site via a Tanzanian specialist who had already worked with DBHW then collected the data on our behalf. The analysis showed a high need and thus a blatant medical undersupply.
The central task of the ZAC was now to bring together the institutions to be involved, based on the existing contacts of our Tanzanian NGO, the C.B.R.O., in order to clarify the question of support for the construction by governmental and church Tanzanian agencies.
We brought representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), the head of the Lutindi Mental Hospital as well as high-ranking representatives of the district government together with the Tanzanian consultant for ophthalmology project development to the round table and received great approval for the project from all sides, without already being able to clarify the individual responsibilities. The ELCT had already signaled in advance its willingness to provide the premises in a fairly new building free of charge for an eye clinic.
At the same time, the ZAC received an offer from the Rotarian Michael Bülhoff to provide a used, high-quality and complete retina station, whereby we would only have to take care of the transport.
But before that, basic data had to be collected, as the project is to be built according to the following principle, so that it can work efficiently and thus also create a corresponding sustainable cost structure:
In a centrally accessible location for patients in Korogwe, the clinic (see the intended building in the slideshow) is to be built as such. Here, all necessary eye operations for the Tanga region could be performed. Well distributed in the region, nurses are still to be trained in four to five locations, who are then to refer potential patients to the future eye clinic in Korogwe. This is the only way to ensure a reasonable penetration and thus reasonable utilization of the clinic.
Doctors, nurses, premises, energy costs and even further technical equipment must be financed in the long term and sustainably. The Tanzanian Ministry of Health as well as the church still have to make a written declaration to take over these arising future costs. DBHW will then take care of the medical training once the declarations still to be made have been submitted. ZAC has offered to take over the administration.
The determination of the follow-up costs has already been carried out by the consultant. Discussions are now pending with the church and the Ministry of Health in order to shed light on these costs and to obtain approval for the assumption of the respective parties involved, without which the project could not be realized. However, the signals are positive from all sides. We hope to have clarified all the necessary issues by the fall of 2022 and then be able to move into implementation.
Regardless of the final results of these talks and an open participation by the DBHW (here a fundamental board decision on the principle of a participation and its possible extent is still pending), we have received donations of two complete and well preserved refraction units including important accessories from Alpen/Lower Rhine and Eschweiler thanks to the networks of our co-opted consultant friend Michael Bülhoff. We picked up these two units ourselves from the donors in a joint day action and brought them to Bottrop. The dedicated forwarding company AStrans/Bottrop, which also took care of all formalities of the export for us, sent the container packed ready for sea in the direction of Tanzania.