Category Archives: Tanzania 2013

First Week in Tanzania

Jambo! Our team here in Mwanza, Tanzania has hit the ground running and we have been busy with our projects this first week. We are loving the welcoming spirit of the people of Mwanza and are having a great time exploring the town.

Our main project while here is teaching a 3-week Introduction to Ultrasound course at Tandabui Institute of Health Sciences and Technology (TIHEST) and our first week was a great success. Our first surprise was that our class size had grown from 84 students to 127!! We were very happy that there was such an interest in learning ultrasound and our class contains students who will become Clinical Officers, Assistant Medical Officers, and about 20 practicing doctors and Registered Nurses from the community. We divided the students into Groups A and B, so that we will have smaller class sizes Monday through Thursday. On Friday there is a multiple choice quiz as well as an individual practical test using an ultrasound machine to assess if they learned the material. Our class runs from 5:30-8:30PM and is structured so that there is 1 hour of lecture, followed by 2 hours of hands-on ultrasound practice in smaller groups.

Our next surprise was that while all of our students know English, we have quite a language barrier to overcome because they cannot understand our accents!! Since we only know pretty basic Swahili (jina langu Gabby= my name is Gabby), we have had to practice speaking slowly and clearly so that our students can understand us. I think we’ve figured it out now, and have realized that we normally don’t articulate our words very well…it has definitely been a humbling exercise.

Anjali Hari taught the Introduction to Knobology course on Monday and Tuesday and we introduced them to the 5 Sonosite Nanomaxx machines we carried with us on the plane, as well as the HKB 0112, the ultrasound machine we were able to bring to donate to the school. The class was eager to learn about the basics of the machine and we were impressed at how quickly they caught on! They have a strong understanding of anatomy and physiology, which is allowing them to understand the image that they see on the ultrasound screen.
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On Wednesday and Thursday, Brad Jacobsen taught the Introduction to Cardiac Ultrasound lecture, one of the more difficult sections of ultrasound to get a grasp on. Our students impressed us again with their abilities to understand the material. When it was time for Friday’s quiz, all of the students did very well on both the written and practical exam and we are excited for the next week of teaching. Next week I (Gabby Ventura) will be teaching Pulmonary Ultrasound, and Michelle Zhou will be teaching Abdominal Ultrasound.
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Check out our students eagerly learning ultrasound together:
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During the day, we rotate between conducting our research on the usefulness of ultrasound for malaria diagnosis, working in the laboratory of Mwananchi Hospital, and ultrasounding pregnant women at Buzuruga Hospital.

At Buzuruga Hospital, we are able to ultrasound pregnant women to determine gestational age and to assess the fetal heart rate. None of these women had ever seen an ultrasound before, so they were very amazed to see their baby. On the first day, students from our group found a women who’s baby had a very low fetal heart rate, something that could not have been detected without ultrasound. We were able to notify the doctor and the woman was rushed to a hospital that could attend to her and her baby’s needs. This is one of the many examples we have seen of how useful integrating ultrasound could be for this community. Here’s Dr. Janice Boughton teaching Dr. Clement from Buzuruga how to make some calculations with our ultrasound machine:
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Also at Buzuruga, Anjali Hari and I worked with Nelson Philipo, a Registered Nurse who also happens to be in our ultrasound course. We taught him the basics of measuring the biparietal diameter or head circumference to calculate the baby’s gestational age, as well as how to assess the fetal heart rate.
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He then in turn showed us how they do the exam without the help of ultrasound and we were able to practice. They use a tape measure to measure the size of the mother’s belly and 1 cm corresponds to 1 week. They then palpate the abdomen to feel for the head and spine to determine the position of the baby. Finally, the use a fetoscope to listen for the baby’s heart beat (see the picture of me below trying it out!! ☺)
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We keep busy throughout the week learning and teaching ultrasound, but finally yesterday we were able to take a long walk through town. Some highlights include walking around Lake Victoria where we stopped for a rest with our friend Mashaka. He then took us to a sugar cane juice stand for a refreshing drink.
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Tutaonana baadaye! (See you later!)
-Gabby Ventura

Journey and Settling in

Jambo! Greetings from Tanzania! 7 of us from the class of 2016 are here this summer to teach a 3 week ultrasound course at a local school for health professionals. We will also be researching the usefulness of ultrasound in malaria diagnosis, along with doing some shadowing and learning about medicine in this country. This blog is where we will keep you all updated on all the happenings with us here in Tanzania.
Our expedition began on June 17th at LAX, where 6 of our team members – Bradley Jacobsen, Gabby Ventura, Neha Mitragotri, Anjali Hari, Michelle Zhou, and Allison Zha – took off for our destination. Along the way, we were joined by Dr. Janice Boughton, who is working with us as our research overseer. We landed at Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania late at night on June 18th, where our final team member Bianca Rivas joined us a few hours later at 3 AM. We spent the night (a few hours) a small hotel in the nearby city of Arusha before setting off again to travel to Mwanza.
6 AM the next morning: all 9 of us boarded a bus that was going to take us to our final destination of Mwanza. What was supposed to by a 10-hour bus ride turned into a 17-hour mission when our bus broke down shortly after lunch. We were stranded on the side of this one-lane road for nearly 7 hours! We tried to entertain ourselves with cards, guitar, exploring the few huts that were situated near the road, and sleep. It turns out that the gearbox was broken, and after unsuccessfully trying to fix the problem, the bus driver and mechanic had to hitch a ride back to the nearest town and bring back a new gearbox. We sat and waited under the shade of a tree and watched its shadow slowly creep across the ground. Around sunset, the bus started to move again, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when we finally pulled into the Mwanza bus station at one o’clock in the morning.
All in all, our experience so far has been great. We are sharing a gorgeous 5 bedroom house with 4 medical students from University of Colorado Denver who are also here for the summer. The house is within walking distance to the beautiful Lake Victoria, which offers great scenery during morning jogs. We live in a quiet residential area, a 15 minute drive from Mwanza’s city center. We spent the first day running errands and exploring the market downtown, and we got to return home and fall asleep to the sounds of frogs and crickets outside our window.
On Friday, we were able to tour a few of the hospitals and facilities where we will be working and teaching. We met with Dr.Tandabui

arrival at kilimanjaro airport Kavit who is in charge of these facilities and has been helping us set up our project. Monday is our first full day of shadowing, researching and ultrasound teaching. We are excited to see what’s in store for us!