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An update on Berega Hospital in the Diocese of Morogoro

Published: 16th June 2021

Canon Isaac Mgego, Director at Berega Hospital in the Diocese of Morogoro has written this update on how Covid-19 has impacted on their services: 

Berega Mission Hospital and Tunguli Health Centre are among the facilities which serve patients, including those exhibiting respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The facilities are run by a voluntary agency under the direction of the Anglican Diocese of Morogoro.

The hospital was established by church Missionary Society (CMS) and its history goes back to 1887 - it has a capacity of 120 registered beds. The health centre was established in 1982 and it has a capacity of 36 beds. Both facilities are situated in rural and poor areas in Tanzania. The population of the catchment area is beyond 3,200,000 people, which includes staff and children at Patmo Orphanage centre, Bishop Chitemo English Medium Pre and Primary School, Berega Bible School and Berega Institute of Health Sciences (BIHeS) run by the Diocese of Morogoro. BIHeS trains health professionals including clinical officers and nurses. These facilities are very reliable in the rural population at this time of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Berega hospital and Tunguli health centre have witnessed the impact of Covid-19 in many ways - economically, socially and politically. A number of patients have passed away at our hospital and Tunguli Health Centre due to difficulties with breathing but were unconfirmed to be caused by the pandemic. This is because all diagnosis and confirmation of Covid-19 is dependent on the national laboratory located in Dar es salaam.

The hospital and the health centre serve an area of mainly farmers. During the pandemic, the farmers have been immensely economically affected. They have not been able to sell their crops (mainly maize and beans) to wholesalers due to the closure of borders. This has meant many patients have not come to the facilities to seek early medical care or receive advice.

Moreover, in normal times, the hospital and health centre receive friends and volunteers from abroad who visit to share their gifts and professional experience to help and mentor our local professionals at the hospital, Bishop Chitemo Primary School , BIHeS, Patmo orphanage and Bible school as well as the communities at large. The postponement of visits of these friends due to the pandemic has been a very big setback in the desired strategic development of these facilities.

The new political regime has resulted in a different response towards the pandemic. In early April, Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced the formation of an expert committee to evaluate the nation’s Covid-19 response. In the report recently submitted to her, the committee said that the country has gone through two major waves of the pandemic and that it is vulnerable to a third. Also the committee called on the government to report accurate information about the pandemic to both its citizens and the WHO.

The committee also called on the President to strengthen Covid-19 prevention efforts, comply with international resolutions, strengthen diagnostic capacity and finalise a Covid-19 treatment guide for health workers. Moreover, they advised that traditional medicine should be used only if it is proven by science and there should be updated disaster response plans and work to establish domestic vaccine manufacturing facilities.

The committee also advised Tanzania to submit the necessary documentation to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in order to start receiving doses.

Our facilities are ready to serve the community in the current waves and third expected one, together with following the instructions from the Ministry of Health. The government hasn’t yet said if there could be funds or medicines and medical supplies for our facility and other faith-based facilities in order to be ready for the continuing fight against Covid-19. It seems we will experience the same challenge of a shortage of significant support from the government.

Infection prevention is a critical component of quality health services, yet it has received insufficient attention in our facilities due to a cobweb of challenges. These facilities are run by a Voluntary Agency complementing the government efforts. However, limited resources are the main challenge. Due to the financial constraints of these facilities, we are not in a good position to implement the infection Prevention and Control (IPC) approach - a practical solution designed to prevent harm caused by infection to patients and health workers. It is our great fear that if Covid-19 strongly hits our community, many health workers and patients will have no way of saving their lives or helping others.

The facilities would like to launch a programme to educate our catchment area, which would offer supportive literature, videotaped instructions, hand washing demonstrations, frequent involvement of personnel in education and feedback on the infection rate in our locality. We hope this programme would make a difference to the community and eventually improve health during the pandemic.

However, a shortage of water, which is the basic weapon and essential in the fight against the pandemic, is the main challenge in our facilities. The current supply of water has been installed and controlled by the government and the monthly bill is so high such that the facilities cannot afford to pay. We wish to revive our boreholes to have an affordable and reliable supply of water. However, the purchasing power is not on our side at the moment.

Due to the financial constraints of these facilities, we still seek spiritual, moral, professional and material assistance from all well-wishers in order to be in a good position of playing our part of saving life through providing a comprehensive range of good quality, affordable, accessible health services during these hard times of the pandemic. However, our services shall not be strongly sustainable unless the government increment of funding is set apart in the budget and made available to us soon.

Canon Isaac Mgego, Director at Berega Hospital in the Diocese of Morogoro

Page last updated: Wednesday 16th June 2021 10:09 AM

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