Mission: Tanzania

Mission Facts

  • Location: Mwanza, Tanzania

  • Population: 223,013

  • Dates: 11/02/2017 - 11/13/2017

  • Surgeons: Dr. Jason Frischer

  • Focus: ARM

  • Complexity: Medium - High

  • Training: High

Mission Brief

Where in the World
Tanzania is located in the eastern region of Africa. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the South. The population of Tanzania is about 47.4 million and 45% of the population are children between the ages of 0-14. The population distribution of Tanzania is extremely uneven with most people living on the northern border or eastern coast. Many Tanzanians live on an equivalent of less than a dollar a day.

The Mwanza Region is located in northern Tanzania with a population of 2,800,000, the second largest city in Tanzania. The Mwanza Region is occupied by various tribal groups. The region currently has 6 hospitals, led by the Bugando Medical Center.

Healthcare in Tanzania
Healthcare in Tanzania is not accessible to the entire population. It is only available to those who have income. Health insurance has only been recently introduced, but it is very limited and does not attend to the needs of the majority of Tanzanians, particularly those outside of urban areas. For a population of almost 50 million people, there are only approximately 800 qualified doctors in entire the country. This patient to doctor ratio is among the worst in all of Africa.

The Children
According to UNICEF, the under-five mortality rate in Tanzania is strikingly high at 81 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate is 51 per 1,000 live births.

Tanzania is making considerable progress in the reduction of child mortality due to the government’s commitment to increase use of key health interventions. These include sustained high coverage of under-five immunizations, Vitamin A supplementation, insecticide treated bed nets, and better treatment for malaria.

The Mission
Anorectal malformations (ARMs) occur when a newborn’s anus and rectum (the lower end of the digestive tract) has not developed properly or is sometimes completely absent. Tanzanian children born with congenital colorectal birth defects or ARMs live out their lives with a colostomy, and due to the cultural belief that the defect is a curse, these children are forced to live in the shadows and in shame. The opportunity for these children to receive ARM surgery gives them a new found hope of leading a healthy, happier life and to attend school in the future.

The Mending Kids ARMs Mission team deploys yearly to the city of Mwanza, situated on the shores of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania. Dr. Jason Frischer of the Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, OH, leads a team to the Bugando Medical Center (BMC) a tertiary hospital that serves about 16 million people from the region.

The mission imparts critical surgical training skills to nun-surgeon, Sister Alicia Massenga, a general surgeon with a keen interest in pediatric surgery to help the hundreds of children from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya currently on the waitlist.

From its early beginning in the fall of 2015, the decision was made to travel to the BMC with a radiologist in order to teach the local team how to administer colostograms and vital ultrasounds to properly diagnose and interpret the findings. Toshiba generously granted Mending Kids the use of a portable machine which has been a critical tool in the selection of patients.

Our team makes greater strides in training local nurses on bowel-prep techniques and postoperative bowel management. Mending Kids has partnered with locally based nonprofits to help track our patients from the rural countryside and provide following-up care. Since the first mission, the Mending Kids team has helped more than 30 children and aided in diagnosing more than 70 to receive the correct treatment.

This Mending Kids ARM mission to Mwanza will take place from November 2-13, 2017 in collaboration with the surgical team from the Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the Bugando Medical Center. This mission will be led by pediatric surgeon, Dr. Jason Frischer. The goal is to provide life-changing surgeries for up to 15 kids, including training for local surgeon, Sister Dr. Alicia Massenga. There are currently hundreds of children at the center with complex colorectal malformations who are awaiting surgeries.

Interested Volunteers
Non-surgical team volunteers are currently being recruited for this mission. If you are interested in volunteering, review our FAQ section (click the Get Involved tab, then Mission Volunteer button) and then contact molly@mendingkids.org. The team fee for this mission is $5000 and will require a deposit of $500 to hold your spot.

Join our team by donating today in support of Mending Kids’ efforts to help children living with birth defects live longer, stronger lives.

Mission Map