Day 20: Tanzania’s Only Cancer Treatment Center

Ocean Road Cancer Institute

Tanzania, a country of over 50 million people, has one cancer treatment center, the Ocean Road Cancer Institute, whose main building is a former German colonial hospital built in 1895. In colonial times, the hospital only treated Europeans. After 1961 it was opened to all races and eventually became the nation’s only specialized cancer hospital. The Ocean … [Read more…]

Day 19: The Gay-Tolerant PASADA HIV/AIDS Clinic


Tanzania has some excellent HIV testing and treatment facilities, thanks in part to copious amounts of western aid and oversight. One of the crown jewels of the HIV/AIDS program in Tanzania is the PASADA HIV/AIDS Clinic in Dar Es Salaam – PASADA is an acronym for: Pastoral Activities and Services for people with AIDS Dar … [Read more…]

Day 18: The Most Unusual Surgery

ENT Surgery Theater, Muhimbili National Hospital

Today we saw a surgery that we’ll likely never see again. A young man in his early 20’s walked in to the ENT operating theater at Muhimbili National Hospital with a large tumor on his forehead that enveloped his left eye. If you look closely at the X-ray in the top left corner, the extent … [Read more…]

Day 17: The Death of a Patient

Death of a Patient

Since coming to Tanzania I’ve written a lot about death – there’s plenty of it in this country, as there is everywhere else, but for reasons I’m not used to. People are seemingly dying needlessly. But maybe it’s my perception that’s the problem. Yesterday I wrote about a young man around my age at the TMJ … [Read more…]

Day 16: TMJ Private Hospital

An MRI showing ring-enhanced lesions, TMJ Hospital

After three weeks rotating through government hospitals in Dar Es Salaam, we got to work with a distinguished physician at the TMJ Hospital today. I say distinguished because Dr. Kapiteni, the head doctor at TMJ Hospital, is apparently quite well known in Dar – our taxi driver knew his working hours off the top of … [Read more…]

Day 15: Mother Teresa’s Orphanage in Dar Es Salaam

Mother Teresa Orphanage, Dar Es Salaam

My biggest fear when we visited the Mother Teresa Orphanage in Dar Es Salaam was that the kids would get attached to us and it would be hard to leave. Well, it was difficult to leave because I was starting to feel attached. The kids at the orphanage seemed accustomed to people coming and going … [Read more…]

Day 14: Appendicitis or Ovarian Cyst?

Dr. Eric makes an incision

Many surgeries in Tanzania are performed with no CT scans or MRIs done beforehand. A surgeon could open someone’s abdomen only to find a completely different problem than what was originally suspected. That’s why imaging technology is so helpful. Amana Hospital has no CT scanners or MRI machines. Today, Dane and I went to the surgery clinic … [Read more…]

Day 13: Lupus, Leprosy and Kaposi’s Sarcoma [NSFW]

Dr. Joshua tests a patient's lesions for sensation

Dermatology in Africa differs from the US or Canada in one big way – there isn’t much skin cancer. Darker people with more melanin in their skin aren’t as susceptible to it. But they do have more infectious diseases with some interesting presentations. For the second day in a row, I saw patients with Dr. Joshua in … [Read more…]

Day 12: Things You See in Dermatology

Dermatology Clinic, Amana Regional Hospital

After some difficult days in the medicine ward and delivery room, I took shelter today in the dermatology clinic at Amana Hospital in Dar Es Salaam. Today being Tuesday, Dr. Joshua, Amana’s only dermatologist, was doing a pediatric clinic. Wednesdays are the adult clinic, and Thursdays are reserved for minor dermatologic procedures. I didn’t know what … [Read more…]

Day 11: Should I try and save this woman?

Bing in the Medicine Ward

A recurring theme at Amana Hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania is the chronic lack of resources. There isn’t much healing and recovery going on in the medicine ward because there isn’t a lot of real medicine being practiced. Patients wallow away for days on end hoping to get better but they don’t because they … [Read more…]