Please Help St. Albert’s Mission Hospital Meet Three Critical Needs

Donations are needed to help the hospital meet these needs

  • Purchase needed supplies, including suture material, injectable drugs, sterile and latex gloves, and pain relievers for women recovering from cesarean section.
  • Purchase items for food packets the hospital gives to the malnourished and critically needy. This is especially important now through April, when the harvest begins.
  • Maintain the cervical cancer prevention clinic.

Dr. Julia Musariri describes conditions at the hospital here.
Questions? Email us at info@betterhealthcareforafrica.org

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Broken Anesthesia Machine Makes Surgery Impossible at St. Albert’s, Other Hospitals

I received the email below two days ago (Wednesday) from St. Albert’s Director Julia about the lack of working anesthesia machines at St Albert’s and other hospitals. We can only imagine the suffering of women around Zimbabwe who need caesareans or of adults or children with appendicitis, trauma, diabetic complications or other conditions needing surgery.

In a chat, I asked Julia whether the machine could be repaired. She said spare parts are unavailable in the country — hard currency is not available to import them — and parts for older machines are often not stocked as newer model machines are added. Given the poor condition of the nation, it’s hard for someone to call around for availability and prices of parts or to shop around on the internet. Hospital staff were shocked to learn that new machines run $40,000-$80,000 — plus shipping and handling, no doubt!

BHA is taking steps to learn how we might help with either the repair or replacement of this machine. Please let us know if you have ideas. And please send a donation to help St. Albert’s meet this and other needs during this dire period.
Thanks and keep well…Darrell

Here is Julia’s description of the situation
I hope to find you well. We are all fine here. The situation is not pleasing. Our anaesthetic machine is malfunctioning, and the anaesthetists are no-more comfortable to work with it. We have told pregnant women to go to other hospitals to seek services. We first phoned Mt Darwin who told us that they do not have a functional machine, Bindura Provincial Hospital had no functional machine, Mvurwi had no anaesthetist and doctor, and the machine were not functional. The other two options were Howard and Karanda Mission Hospitals. So there was movement by the women who went to the Mission Hospitals. We called an engineer who is the ZCBC employee at the National Health Desk who should do periodic checks of all the Catholic Hospitals machines. He says we should think about a new machine, a standard one.

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ZCBC Pastoral Letter About Conditions in Zimbabwe

Hi, Everyone –

BHA is a sectarian and nonpolitical organization. At the same time, we want you to know about the current economic, social and political events that affect St. Albert’s Mission Hospital. BHA’s mission is to help St. Albert’s in particular provide care to the sick and injured. We offer this post to help you understand the hospital’s circumstances and needs as we appeal for your support.

Attached for download is the letter “Rebuild Hope, Trust, Confidence and Stability in Zimbabwe” from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference dated 17 January 2019 giving its perspective about events in the country.

The letter opens with

“…disowning a recent statement issued in our name during the recent stay-away that started on 14 January 2019. We, the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe, never issued any statement during that period. We are dismayed that our name was abused in the manner it was.”

The main body of the letter begins:

(2) We, the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, have observed with increasing concern and alarm the state of our Zimbabwean nation from the time of the military – assisted political change that took place in November 2017 to the total shutdown of Zimbabwe’s major cities and rural trading centres that began on Monday, 14 January 2019.

Read and download the letter
Pastoral Letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference on current affairs in the country, 17 January 2019

 

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Hunger and Malnutrition

The food hampers that St. Albert’s provides to the hungry and malnourished include two sacks of mealie meal (corn meal), cooking oil, pasta, beans and dried fish.

The contents of a food hamper that St. Albert's Mission Hospital has provided an 80-year old woman. Her feet and legs show signs of pellagra, a form of malnourishment.
The contents of a food hamper that St. Albert’s Mission Hospital has provided an 80-year old woman. Her feet and legs show signs of pellagra, a form of malnourishment.

Donate here to BHA and help St. Albert’s ease hunger and suffering among the needy coming to the hospital.


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Conditions at St. Albert’s Mission Hospital

Hi, Everyone

There have been many news reports recently about deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe. Here is how how those conditions are affecting St. Albert’s Mission Hospital.

On Sunday, 13 January, the Zimbabwe government announced a 150 percent increase in diesel and petrol prices. A three-day general stay-away (strike) began the next day that shut down Zimbabwe, and the government and government supporters responded violently (Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission report)

17 January: St Albert’s township was quite during the stay-away. All shops were close for three days for fear of arson. Public transport was unavailable. Afterward, the hospital was not busy because people could not afford the increased fares.

The hospital’s greatest needs include analgesics for post-surgery women, suture material, injectable medicines, and sterile and latex gloves.

The hospital also needs funds to pay for the servicing of hospital vehicles that are also used as ambulances. “We have failed to raise the $2 500 and $3 600 needed to bring the vehicles back from the garages,” says Dr. Julia Musariri.

Keep well, everyone, and please consider giving to BHA. Your donations will help St. Albert’s meet critical needs. Thank you…Darrell

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End-of-year Report from St. Albert’s

The following year-end summary of the situation at St. Albert’s was sent by Dr. Julia Musariri, Medical Superintendent of St. Albert’s.

14th December   2018

Dear Friends,

The year 2018 has come to an end and you have been part of us as we steadily moved through the God given seasons. Zimbabwe is going through a very tough period of its history as we strive to keep alive and help others keep alive.

We are feeling the bad economy. Inflation is high, and basic commodities are expensive. There are no medicines in the hospitals, and companies want us to purchase medicines in USD, which we do not have.

Children went to school, thanks to help from various players. We might not be able to enroll new children because the fees are now high. We want to thank all the donors who made it possible for children to go to school and learn how to read and sign their own documents; for the needy to receive medicines, food, the energy drink (maheu) for school children; for providing funds for the construction for the drop-in center and for the safe house for teens; and for the provision of shipping containers with electric materials, food and building materials. It has been a great year because you all stood by us in spite of all the difficulties. For paying the salary for the hospital administrator whose contract has come to an end this December 2018.

We thank each and everyone for the constant help which makes it possible for us to bring joy to many. We also thank you for helping us do the work we do and to carry on in spite of the challenges because we feel encouraged by you all.

Programs

Cervical cancer screening

We thank Dr. Lowell Schnipper, the Sarita Kenedy East Founation, and Better Healthcare for Africa for helping with funds to maintain the screening for cervical cancer running by supplying materials and camera. They have also helped us hire nurses for the screening program. The screening is going in spite of shortage of items to use in the process. Unfortunately, one of the nurses was diagnosed invasive cancer of breast. She is going to undergo surgery on the 19th December 2018. We wish her all the best.

Buildings

The Drop-In Centre has no plumbing and electricity connections. We have not been able to raise the necessary funds for pipes, water tank, tank stand and sinks. We need electric cables to connect the building to the main electric grid to make the building habitable. Work with adolescent children is on-going, though the space is small as we wait for the completion of the Drop-In Centre.

Safe House

The safe house is for the abused children to stay as they await the court to give the verdict. The slab is now complete. We are rather worried with the state of the economy which is now unpredictable as commodities are either not available or very expensive. We soldier on with you, our friends’ encouragement.

The Farm Project

The farm is doing well. We are able to grow vegetables for our patients and sell the surplus. The maize we use for the staple food is from our farm produce. We have cattle, pigs and rabbits. The fish project has not been very successful it has to be rescheduled.

The Road Works

The main road to St Albert’s is under construction and will soon be tarred. So we will travel more comfortably with our ambulance and other vehicles.

Vehicles

Only two vehicles are on the road. The Toyota “ Fabrica” had a bad accident we have not been able to have it repaired and the other three have various parts which need to be replaced but are expensive and not available on the market.

Maternity

Maternity is always very busy and caesarean sections are high because most of the women are teenagers. The babies are large and normal delivery is impossible since the pelvis is still developing. We have a total of 250 deliveries in the month and 60 or more are delivered by Caesarean section. The Casearean sections keeps both the nursing staff and theatre staff busy amongst other surgical conditions attended to in theatre with limited resources to perform to the utmost.

Shipping containers

We received the two containers with the assortment of products for use in the hospital.

Medicines and medical sundries:

Medicines and medical sundries are chronically in limited quantities. We resort to writing prescriptions so that patient’s relatives can go and procure the medicines needed from the private pharmacies. More often than not the relative comes back to us to say he was unable to go because he had no money for the bus and for buying the medications. In the meanwhile the condition gets worse, or it resolves by a long natural process.

We received a consignment in May 2018, which gave us some relief but stocks run out quickly and our shelves are empty once more. We are appreciative and thankful for the medicines we received from Better Healthcare for Africa, Rock No War, Rotary Trieste Nord, Casa Aperta, Gruppo Missionario Luisa Guidotti and Associazione Sanitaria Internazionale.

Accept our sincere thanks for all you have helped us do here for the community we serve. We also take this opportunity to wish you and all friends who sustain us in our struggle to bring the love of Christ to the poor we serve and on their behalf a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR FULL of the good things you desire.

Dr Julia Musariri
Medical Superintendant
St Albert’s Mission Hospital

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Christmas 2008 – St. Albert’s

Hello, BHA supporters –

Click here to download a PDF of Christmas 2008 – St. Albert’s Mission Hospital, an accordion-fold book that I made to honor Dr. Elizabeth Tarira. Elizabeth was director of St. Albert’s from 1999 to 2012. I met her in 2000 when I first visited St. Albert’s during a Fulbright-grant funded project, and I came to know her well. She died of recurrent breast cancer in July 2012. The book presents an eight-paragraph email that Elizabeth sent to hospital supporters shortly before Christmas 2008. In it, she described conditions at the hospital and suggested how donors might help her and the hospital cope with those conditions. She closes her email in way that expresses her positive, buoyant spirit. The paragraphs are presented one at a time followed by a photo of mine, most taken during a visit in 2009.

Today, 10 years later, Dr. Julia Musariri and the staff at St Albert’s are coping with very similar conditions. Dr. Musariri describes them in this three-minute video recorded during our visit in September 2018.

BHA needs your support if we are to continue helping Dr. Musarir and reducing suffering from cancer at St. Albert’s and Karanda hospitals. Please send a donation when you can.

Thank you and keep well…Darrell

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Thank you from St. Albert’s

Hi, Everyone – On 13 April, 2018, BHA received the email below from Dr. Musariri thanking BHA and its friends for the $5,000 sent to help the hospital meet a critical shortage of basic drugs and supplies. And we want to again thank the BHA supporters who contributed!
…Darrell

Dear Friends at BHA,
Accept our sincere gratitude for the medicines you bought for us in our time of extreme need. The staff was happy they had something to use. We live on hand to mouth system in our health institutions but because we  have you out there we are happy of the support.
 
Darrell I do hope that your are now home and feeling much better.
I have attached a report and the invoice.
Thank you so much.
 
Julia 
 St Albert’s Mission Hospital
 
 
 

Dear Friends at BHA,

Greetings from St Albert’s Mission Hospital we are all very grateful for the funds you availed us to buy medicines and medical sundries which were out of stock. We had a relief of the urgently needed medicines when you came to our help.

Having purchased the medicines for the $5055USD you availed us the gap was briefly closed.

We were able to resuscitate patients and to treat them. The political and economic environment is extremely unfavorable for health institutions. Thank you for the care, concern and understanding.

We always are fed on promises which never in many instances bear any results.

Thank so much BHA.

On behalf of St Albert’s Mission Hospital team we wish you the best of God’s care and blessings.
Julia

Taking stock of purchased medicines

Patients waiting to pick up medicines

 

OPD patients awaiting consultations

OPD patients awaiting consultations

Intravenous fluids were bought

Intravenous fluids were bought

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An Urgent Request for Help

Hello, Everyone – On 22 March 2018, BHA received an email from Dr. Musariri, the director of St. Albert’s Mission Hospital, asking for help in the purchase of critically needed drugs and supplies. We sent an email to BHA supporters seeking donations and received about $2,700. We sincerely thank all those who contributed. BHA then sent a little over $5,000 to St. Albert’s, which helped Dr. Musariri though the crisis, though the need was much greater. Below is the appeal we sent to supporters, which included Dr. Musariri’s original email. Please note that BHA will gratefully accept donations to help the hospital meet future critical needs and to continue the hospital’s cancer prevention programs. Please note also that BHA is an all-volunteer organization with very little overhead, so nearly all your donation goes to help the hospital.
Thank you and keep well…Darrell

Hi, Everyone –
 
I’m writing to ask you for a contribution to help BHA raise $5,000 to meet an urgent need for basic drugs and supplies at St. Albert’s Mission Hospital. Dr. Julia Musariri, director of St. Albert’s, recently sent the following email:
 
“Dear Darrell,
This morning the pharmacist brought me an urgent list of commodities. It is becoming more and more difficult to manage patients. Could you help me if it is possible so that I could procure them. I know that it is also difficult for BHA. The list she brought me cost $22,800.00, and I told her to trim it. Stay blessed.”
 
The trimmed list is attached and totals $5,000. It describes simple, highly effective medications and intravenous fluids essential for basic patient care. Zimbabwe and its healthcare system are in severe economic distress. Medical supplies are scarce. Doctors at national hospitals have been on strike for more than three weeks, causing people to travel to St. Albert’s and other mission hospitals for treatment.
 
Please send a donation to help Dr. Musariri meet this urgent need. You can use PayPal on the BHA website or mail a check payable to “Better Healthcare for Africa” to:
 
Better Healthcare for Africa
P.O. Box 361132
Columbus, OH 43236-1132
 
Thank you and keep well…Darrell
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2017 Year End Report

Dear Friends,

Your donations to BHA help St. Albert’s Mission Hospital to remain open and to provide medical care to the 120,000 people in its impoverished rural district and others who come from as far away as Harare and Mozambique. During 2017, we focused largely on maintaining the hospital’s cervical-cancer prevention program and improving water availability within the hospital. Please note that we need your help to continue our work in 2018. Please make a donation here.

2017 Highlights

Support for the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program, St. Albert’s

The program began in August 2013 and has continued uninterrupted since then, thanks to grants administered by BHA and obtained by oncologist Dr. Lowell Schnipper, Theodore W. and Evelyn G. Berenson Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Field of Oncology, Harvard Medical School, Clinical Director, Cancer Center and chief of Hematology/Oncology Division, emeritus at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cancer Center. As of March 31, 2017: St. Albert’s had screened a total of 7,305 women; identified 329 women with precancerous changes and more than 74 women with likely cervical cancer; conducted 16 awareness campaigns; eight screening outreaches screened 154 women at rural health centers who could not afford to travel to the hospital.

A grant awarded to Dr. Schnipper provides $20,000 per year for 2017-19. That amount primarily covers the wages for four nurses who conduct the clinic and outreach screenings and fuel for outreach screenings. Donations from you are needed for additional expenses, such as replacing a broken camera used to photograph the cervix to help with diagnosis and quality control.

Support for the Cervical Cancer Prevention, Karanda Mission Hospital

A second and similar three-year grant obtained by Dr. Schnipper supports cervical-cancer screening at Karanda Mission Hospital over the same period. Our July trip to Zimbabwe (described below) included visiting Karanda to discuss the needs of their VIAC clinic with Dr. Paul Thistle, OB/GYN, and provide a cancer-education workshop to hospital staff.

St. Albert’s Solar-Powered Water Pump

A photo taken during the i nstallation of the solar-powered water pump at St. Albert's Mission Hospital.

Installation of the solar-powered water pump at St. Albert’s Mission Hospital.

Dr. Julia Musariri, director of St. Albert’s, began dreaming of a solar-powered water pump in early 2017. It came when the hospital had no general electricity for 14 days and “water from boreholes became zero.” They used a tractor pulling a water tank to bring water to the kitchen, laundry and to some homes. “We had to discharge most of our patients except for those who were critical. It was difficult to manage the hospital with piles of [soiled] linen because [the laundry] could not cope by hand washing,” wrote hospital director Dr. Musariri. A solar-powered water pump would enable the hospital to continue operating even during prolonged power losses.

The pump was purchased with the help of a $2,000 donation to BHA raised by the St. Louis College of Pharmacy’s International Student Organization during their 2017 annual fundraiser in May. In the end, however, the cost of the pump was more than $9,400. Additional funds were provided by donations from Dr. Lowell and Hester Schnipper and by your donations to BHA.

On Nov. 20, I received an email from Dr. Musariri saying that the solar water pump was operational. “We have had power cuts since 16 Nov. 2017 to today. But the hospital has water. Accept our sincere gratitude.”

Key BHA Accomplishments for 2017

January: BHA was contacted by Botswanan journalist seeking information for an article about cervical cancer in Zimbabwe. She wrote it for Women and Girls Hub, an online news platform that focuses on issues affecting women and girls in the developing world. Read the article here 

February: A long-awaited shipment of refurbished medical equipment arrived at St. Albert’s that was paid for by a grant obtained by Dr. Lowell Schnipper. The equipment was provided by the International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC). It included a badly needed X-ray unit, a suite of rehabilitation equipment, a chemistry analyzer, GeneXpert, exhaust hood and other equipment for the hospital’s clinical laboratory, among other things. BHA helped coordinate the shipment and served as the shipper of record.  BHA also funded an expansion of St. Albert’s clinical laboratory that was necessary to accommodate the new fume hood and equipment.

May: BHA helped coordinate visits to St Albert’s by two pediatric fellows from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. One of the young doctors was trained in the fundamentals of neonatal resuscitation through a program called Helping Babies Breathe. She brought several mannequins with her to train midwives and other providers at St. Albert’s in the technique. She also carried a new battery for a MacBook Pro, used by one of the St. Albert’s doctors, and an HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the hospital’s projector, both purchased by BHA. A second fellow from Nationwide Children’s was already at St Albert’s. Five pediatric fellows from Nationwide Children’s have visited St Albert’s in the last three years, and BHA helped coordinate all of them.

Also in May: Dr. Anna Nyakabau, a radiation and medical oncologist from Zimbabwe, traveled to Boston for about 10 days to visit Dr. Schnipper and observe radiation and medical oncologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She then came to Columbus to observe the treatment of breast and other cancers at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. I then drove Dr. Nyakabau to Chicago where she attended the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual conference before returning to Zimbabwe.

Along with an interest in the treatment of breast, cervical and prostate cancer, and radiation technique called brachytherapy, Dr. Nyakabau works to improve cancer control activities in Zimbabwe. While at Ohio State, she recorded a video titled “Cancer Prevention in Zimbabwe and Other Under-Resourced Countries,” which is now part of the online course offered free by the Ohio State cancer program called Introduction to the Science of Cancer.

June: An editor at the Financial Gazette newspaper in Harare contacted BHA. The result was an article I wrote (consulting with physician friends in Zimbabwe.) about the importance of cancer education and cancer literacy for The Health Funder, a magazine published for the Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe. You can see the article here and the issue here: The Health Funder magazine.

July: Dr. Lowell Schnipper and I met in Zimbabwe for a 10-day visit. We were joined by Ms. Megan Jukich, a laboratory manager at Ohio State’s James Cancer Hospital. In Harare, our activities included:

  • Meetings with Dr. Nyakabau and others at Parirenyatwa Hospital and the University of Zimbabwe;
  • A meeting at Island Hospice to explore the possibility of palliative care training for St Albert’s and Karanda and to accompany a hospice nurse for an afternoon of home visits in a high-density area of Harare.
  • A guest lecture presented by Dr. Schnipper at Parirenyatwa Hospital about how research leads to new cancer therapies.

At St. Albert’s, we:

  • Attended an event commemorating the life of Dr. Elizabeth Tarira, a beloved director of the hospital who died of recurrent breast cancer in 2012;
  • Discussed the needs of the cervical cancer prevention program;
  • Were updated on improvements to the hospital’s water system that BHA and Dr. Schnipper have supported.
  • Were updated on the area’s food situation.
  • Delivered a ballast unit for the fume hood in the hospital’s clinical laboratory and a number of packH2O water backpacks donated by a Columbus, Ohio, businessman.

At Karanda Mission Hospital:

  • We discussed the needs of the cervical cancer prevention program;
  • We held two half-day cancer workshops for nurses and staff. The workshops used six videos from Ohio State’s free online cancer course Introduction to the Science of Cancer and were moderated by a physician assistant at Karanda.

Here is a video that takes you on a walk from the hospital guest house to the hospital gate and includes an unplanned appearance by Dr Musariri: https://youtu.be/orKnuCG7-Fc

This short video shows the hospital’s reservoir on a quiet evening: https://youtu.be/5A8KfLGa02g

August: Dr. Schnipper helped doctors at Parirenyatwa Hospital obtain a donated subscription to UpToDate, an online source of medical information for all manner of medical and surgical problems. It is used widely by physicians at many U.S. teaching hospitals.

During much of 2017, Dr. Schnipper worked with Dr. Paul Thistle at Karanda, Dr. Megan Fitzpatrick at Stanford and others to organize a study to learn what subtypes of HPV were prevalent among women coming to Karanda for cervical screening. The study should begin soon and could produce data that will help estimate the effectiveness of current HPV vaccines in Zimbabwe.

Thanks to your donations, the hospital had water during critical times in spite of electrical outages. That is just one of the ways that you make a difference. Your support helps the doctors and staff at St. Albert’s continue their work. Please make a donation to BHA today. Thank you for your consideration and for your support!

Take care everyone and keep well…Darrell

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