DECEMBER 11, 2014 – Caroline Joyce (NHS’15), originally from Colorado, traveled to Tanzania this fall for the Department of International Health’s practical experience abroad program.
While there, she interned with the German International Cooperation (GIZ), conducting a research study to assess the quality of outpatient care in a region that experiences a severe shortage of health care workers.
Quality of Care
In October 2013, GIZ, together with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Tanzania, conducted a baseline study to better understand the concerns of patients and hospital staff.
Over the last 10 months, the Regional Health Management Team (RHMT) has overseen quality improvement initiatives at the Lindi Regional Referral Hospital to address the most pressing gaps in service provision.
“My task this semester was to conduct the follow-up study, compare the two datasets, and determine if the initiatives were successful,” Joyce says. “We were pleased with the results and hope that Lindi Regional Hospital will serve as a model for other hospitals, health centers, and dispensaries in Tanzania.”
Clean Water Shortages
One of the most critical issues in Tanzania is the shortage of clean drinking water, affecting toilet and washroom functionality at the hospital, she says, noting she had witnessed people collecting water from still puddles or ditches the morning after a rainstorm.
She also found in her research that many of the Lindi patients reported that the doctor had counseled them about hygiene and washing with clean water.
“In the United States, these things don’t even cross my mind,” she says. “It really makes you realize how fortunate we are.”
Plans for the Future
Joyce believes that her Georgetown education has prepared her well for the professional world and hopes to pursue a master’s degree after graduation.
“There are so many places to go and adventures to experience, and I believe that my experiences abroad have really helped me see that,” Joyce says. “As they say in Tanzania, ‘hakuna matata.’”
By Masha Mikey (S’15)