Medical students campaign for Tanzania


Joost Stultiens and Twan Kortz experienced first-hand how a Tanzanian hospital struggled to cope with a lack of knowledge, funds and equipment, so they decided to launch a campaign. Thanks to the Nijmegen medical students, two hundred patient monitors have been sent to Africa so far.

The difference between the Radboud university medical center and the Tanzanian Rubya Hospital couldn’t be more obvious. Radboud, where Stultiens and Kortz are studying to become doctors, has state-of-the-art equipment and devices. At Rubya Hospital, on the other hand, a typical hospital room has little more than a few beds.

Last year, Stultiens and Kortz completed a three-month internship in Rubya, a village in the far north-west of Tanzania near Victoria Lake. Dozens of Nijmegen medical students intern in developing countries every year.

‘My parents took the patient monitors with them in their hand luggage’

Soon after their arrival, the two decided they wanted to do something to help the hospital. ‘I remember a young boy being sent to the general ward after surgery,’ explains Kortz. ‘He needed intravenous fluids, but the nurse wasn’t able to find a vein and the patient died.’

It was an unfortunate situation that could have easily been prevented. ‘The nurse probably didn’t understand the importance of administering the fluids.’ According to the students, the nurse isn’t entirely to blame. ‘Unlike here, they don’t have separate departments. All of the patients stay in the same ward together. The only difference being that men, women and children are separated. The fact that a nurse loses track of things at a certain point comes as no surprise.’

In order to make a real difference, Stultiens and Kortz wanted to raise money for some desperately needed equipment. ‘We spoke with the hospital director and decided to raise money for a patient monitor to track the patients’ vital signs.’

During the campaign, Stultiens and Kortz came into contact with the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital in Tilburg, which had recently replaced its own equipment. ‘They gave us two patient monitors’, says Stultiens. ‘My parents brought them to Tanzania in their hand luggage when they came to visit.’ The two devices are now housed in a separate room for seriously ill and post-surgery patients. The idea is to transform this room into an intensive care unit, but this will require additional resources and trained staff.

As the Tilburg hospital donated the patient monitors, Stultiens and Kortz still have nearly the full campaign amount at their disposal: some 2,500 euros. The students contacted the Friends of Rubya Foundation, which was previously established by tropical medicine doctors and has a good understanding of the requirements involved.

The money will probably be used to purchase oxygen equipment for the new ICU. ‘I hope to return one day’, says Kortz. ‘It would be great to see the campaign equipment being used.’

Stultiens and Kortz are still welcoming campaign donations. Visit their Facebook page for more information or watch the video below to see a tour of Rubya Hospital with Stultiens and Kortz.

Rubya Hospital through the eyes of Twan and Joost from Joost Stultiens on Vimeo.

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