STREET MEDICINE PROGRAM

Access to healthcare is very much limited for street connected children and elderly individuals. There is no real opportunity for these underserved group to develop an ongoing relationship with a healthcare provider since they are highly mobile and health is a lower priority as they struggle to meet their daily demands for food and shelter also due to poverty, ignorance, lack of coordinated healthcare services and lack of the supervision of responsible adults, most of them do not seek necessary medical attention at right time.

Street Medicine Project (formerly Wound Care Project for Street Children) was founded in 2015 targets to support street connected children and elderly people on transit to safe homes/shelters in Mwanza city to access free healthcare services outside the hospital and within the hospital. Before April 2021 the program was conducted in a small tent set along the streets and sometimes along the Victoria Lake Shore.

In collaboration with Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences-Bugando, the program provides learning opportunities for local and international students through research studies including studies on prevalence of wounds and associated infections.

The program involves medical volunteers and staff from Bisou Bailey Dispensary who take responsibilities of triaging the patients at Mwanza streets and take them to the Dispensary for medical consultation, laboratory investigation, medication and health promotion. The programs serve an average of 30 patients per outreach and common presenting conditions includes wounds, Urinary Tract Infections, Typhoid, Worms, skin diseases etc.

THE LIFE OF THE BRAVE YOUNG BOY: An experience from Street Medicine Program. (Part 1)

“Despite of the pain and the long journey James is determined to get his wounds treated. He is a boy full of bravery and determination even though he has a sad story to tell“.

James (not his name) is a boy aged 12 years; he lives and works on the streets.

Up to few Months ago James lived with his parents, he had a place to call home, but when his mother died and his father remarried, things changed.

His step mother came with her own son age nearly as James’s so there were regular conflicts and misunderstanding among them James couldn’t put up with. His step mother used to beat him on silly things, he was not given food and she fed hatred to her husband whom become brutal to James.

The boy could no longer put up with all that, he decided to leave his house and go as far as he can just to escape from his own family.

On the day he left home, he didn’t tell anyone and he left as if he was going to the nearby playground so he carried nothing with him.

He walked from rural district (about 31 km) which took him a few days eating what he could get on his way. He was exhausted, hungry when he came to a food stall where a Samaritan woman seeing him offered food before she asked him about his where bouts. He had wounds and dirty, after hearing the story the woman told James about a place where they offering food for children like him.

On the street James made new friends who took him to a place where they normally sleep When the town shops are closed at night, they spread boxes and sleep on shop’s veranda.

His wounds of about 2.5 to 3 inches were also getting discharge until he found an organization (CBO) which works to provide a free health care services to the street connected children in Mwanza through a weekly outreach program. He was attended and his wounds were well dressed and treated at the day.

He walks 4km daily to access a friendly wound care services anchored at Bisou Bailey Medical Dispensary a charity medical facility under a CBO based in Mwanza

“Despite of the pain and the long journey James is determined to get his wounds treated. He is a boy full of bravery and determination even though he has a sad story tell”.

Street Medicine Program under Tanzania Rural Health Movement continuously work to provide free medical services to underserved population such as street connected children across Mwanza City for seven years now.

Despite on the treatments, these streets connected children have many stories to tell but the problem is, “Where and who to share their life stories?”

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today, there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. (Stacia Tauscher)

Author

Augustino Mhanga – Program Manager| Tanzania Rural Health Movement

+255 759 095 943     mhanga@tanzaniaruralhealth.or.tz

THE LIFE OF THE BRAVE YOUNG BOY, Tanzania Rural Health Movement