KSJHF News, December 2017

New Tanks Provide Water During Dry Season

The rainwater collection system for St. Joseph Hospital was activated last month during my volunteer time there. This project was supported by a $96,000 grant from Rotary International. A total of 13 concrete 50,000-liter tanks were constructed and located in two separate areas near hospital buildings to collect rainwater runoff from the corrugated metal roofs. The new system will provide 650,000 liters of water to cover the hospital’s needs during the dry season when the existing bore hole (well) goes dry.

These pictures were taken prior to application of the smooth finish and installation of the dome shaped covers. The tanks were completed during my visit.

Building of the tanks introduced a new type of construction to the area that produces stronger blocks that are more economical to produce than other methods currently used. The blocks are made by collecting subsoil and dry-mixing it with a predetermined amount of cement. Water is added and the mix is compressed into a form by a machine and then air-dried. This type of construction is far superior to clay-fired bricks and does not require the use of fossil fuels.

We are encouraging the formation of a construction company to continue to use this new technology in the area. Two projects are already in the planning stages that may employ many of the workers who were trained during construction of the tanks.

An Extraordinary Case

Ines is an eight-year-old child with a severe burn scar contracture on her left wrist and hand. We discovered her in a school for handicapped children. Her hand was essentially useless as evidenced in the first picture but all the bones, joints tendons and nerves were present. Last year I performed the first surgery that included three skin grafting procedures on her hand to restore mobility to her wrist. In the second picture the restricting and remaining scars to the fingers can be identified on the back of her hand.

Last month I performed the fourth surgery designed to give Ines mobility of her fingers. This included an abdominal pedicle flap where skin is transferred from the abdomen to the back of the hand to release the fingers. The contractures to the fingers were all released and the tendons lengthened. I am hopeful for nearly normal function. Stay tuned for follow-up.

This case represents a need for a public education program in Tanzania to prevent these burns in children. The burns are usually associated with cooking fires and in most cases can be prevented. This should be a good program to be promoted by Rotary International to apply in many other developing nations.

I was assisted in this procedure by Dr. Albert, a second-year resident at the Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) in nearby Mwanza. Dr. Albert performed most of the tedious suturing and applied the external fixation device to hold things in place and allow ambulation and prevent drainage.

Dr. Albert spent two weeks with me where he also performed procedures under my supervision that he had never experienced before in his training at the BMC. At BMC the residents mainly perform emergency surgery on trauma victims. The theatre is extremely busy and it is difficult to gain operative time to do elective cases. Dr. Albert was very enthusiastic about this experience that will surely be offered again to him and other residents at the BMC.

Effort to Restore Orthopaedics Overseas

We are also applying to Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) to restore the Orthopaedics Overseas (OO) program at the BMC. The OO program existed at the BMC from 1993-2005. During that period dozens of American orthopaedic surgeons spent a month or more teaching orthopaedic surgery at that facility to the general surgeons and interns. These American volunteers brought their knowledge to Tanzania but also transported needed implants and instruments to BMC.

Our goals in Tanzania are two-fold; the first goal is to financially support St. Joseph Hospital in providing orthopaedic care and care for burns and congenital deformities that would not be possible without our support. The second goal is to train a new generation of orthopaedic surgeons to bring 21st century care in orthopaedic surgery to Northern Tanzania. The training program in Mwanza is now in its second year and is considered to be highly successful.

As the year ends please consider making a donation to the Kagondo St. Joseph Hospital Foundation (KSJHF), a tax-deductible 501c3 organization. Up until last month all donations went directly for purchase of orthopaedic care. At that time, we purchased a satellite Internet connection to the guest house where we stay. In addition, we purchased a new operating light for the minor surgery room at the hospital.

Donations can be sent to me at P.O. Box 6374, Incline Village, NV 89450. All donations are tax deductible and checks should be made payable to Kagondo St. Joseph Hospital Foundation.

Best wishes to our friends and supporters for a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


Wend Schaefer, M. D.

President, Kagondo St. Joseph Hospital Foundation