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Health problems and projects on Mafia Island

The major health problems on Mafia are connected with poverty:

  • There is a considerable shortage of staff and materials at both the District hospital and village clinics. See report Mafia faces health staff shortage
  • Malaria (see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC/IHRDC Malaria Program in Tanzania http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/cdcactivities/tanzania.htm )
    Malaria can be prevented by the use of treated mosquito-nets, but not all Mafians have these.
  • Gastro-intestinal infections: these arise particularly from the consumption of dirty water: most Mafians are dependent up on well-water for their needs
  • Nematode infections (especially hookworm - see M. Albonico et al. 2002 'Soil-transmitted nematode infections and bedendazole treatment in Mafia Island schoolchildren' www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12537633
    People are particularly vulnerable to hookworm, which is a major cause of anaemia, if they do not wear shoes. Many women and children on Mafia walk with bare feet.
  • Filariasis is a threadworm infection which obstructs lymphatic vessels, leading to the debilitating and disfiguring condition known as elephantiasis.
  • Upper respiratory tract infections.
  • HIV/AIDS : The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS at around 6% on Mafia is lower than in many parts of Tanzania, but it is increasing, although the only figures available are those from blood donors and women who give birth in hospital. It is thought that the rate is higher in the district capital than in the villages. The district hospital (see below) can test for HIV/AIDS, as can many of the village clinics, and women giving birth who are HIV-positive receive Niverapine to prevent the infection passing to their children. In addition to the prevention advice given by radio, schools, and government hospitals and clinics (see below), there are a number of locals NGOs which work to raise awareness.

    Some useful websites about HIV/AIDS:

Medical facilities on Mafia

Dr. Amos at the lab bench Each village has a health centre (zahanati) and staff usually include at least a paramedic, midwife, and nurse. Drugs are supplied monthly, paid for with a mixture of government and donor funds (e.g. UNICEF). Treatment and medication is free. All children are vaccinated against the major childhood diseases and receive polio, measles, tuberculosis and DPT jabs. There are also regular baby clinics where progress is checked mainly by monitoring weight/growth.

There is also a government hospital in Kilindoni part of which has recently been re-furbished with outside funding. Patients have to pay for both treatment and medicine, which for many is very difficult.

Chole Island has a particularly good clinic which used to be funded by foreign donors but which has recently been handed over to the government’
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Most government-funded villages clinics are rather less well-equipped than that of Chole.
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Kilindoni hospital - a newly refurbished ward
Reception at Kili hospital