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Tanzania Mission 2014

Mission Diaries: Laurie Zeigler

· Tanzania

This trip was fantastic! Dr. Gill, Brian Wetzel and I spent 4 days at Muhimbill University Hospital. We had a very productive visit and were pleased to see some wonderful changes that have occurred since our last visit. In the Radiology department, the mammography room was being used but the images were underexposed, making a diagnosis difficult. We discussed a plan of action and decided to begin with the darkroom and dedicated mammography processor. Brian took on overseeing the daunting task of thoroughly cleaning the processor with a specialized cleaner donated by Eileen Marczewski and Sywest Medical Technologies. Fresh chemicals were put in and the processor was up and running!! Then came the darkroom… I hesitate to talk about the darkroom for fear Brian will suffer from post-traumatic stress! Enough said - the darkroom is now spic and span! Failure of the darkroom fog test was easily solved by re-positioning the safe light and we fixed the patient identification “flasher” with a new light bulb and rewiring the switch. One of the most important discoveries was that the film was being placed upside down in the cassette, with the single emulsion layer not coming in contact with the intensifying screen. By making that one small change we were able to reduce patient dose by 82% and produce a diagnostic quality mammogram study.

 I am so proud to be part of Radiologists Without Borders and the team that was with me last week. Each of us with different skill sets but working together to ensure all of our individual goals were met. The people of Tanzania and the staff of the University and Radiology department gave us a warm reception and were eager to learn. The Mammographers, Betty Urassa, Honoratha Mpenda and Salma Majatta are smart women who are very passionate about what they are doing and understand how important their role is in the process of finding breast cancer early. I learned as much from them as they learned from me…They are very excited to be taking over responsibility of their darkroom, processor and films so they will have complete control over the entire process. I have so much respect for these 3 ladies who have now become my friends for life! Dr. Gill worked with the Radiologists, Radiology Residents and Medical Students. He taught, lectured, interpreted images and assisted with breast biopsies. He is an impressive speaker and everyone comes away with a renewed enthusiasm for their profession! I can tell by their excitement that he inspires them to believe in their potential. His lectures are inspirational even for me who has heard him lecture many times! We also worked with the University’s IT department to make possible the sharing of images between Muhimbili and the USA for consultation purposes and will be developing a program that will allow us to teach and lecture using a web based application including pertinent links. In conclusion, there are so many people to thank for our successful trip. First, I would like to thank Mr. Nazir and Humanity First for their continued support and belief in our mission. Our relationship with Muhimbili could not happen without your generosity. Next I have to mention how wonderful the Radiologists and Residents were who I had contact with. To name a few, Dr. Kazema, Dr. Lulu, Dr. Flora, Dr. Valerie, Dr. Rhama, Dr. Balowa and Dr. Mogda. I admire you all and thank you for your kindness. I have already talked about the mammographers but I think they deserve to be recognized again for their dedication to our profession! Thank you Catherine Semkudi, Deputy Registrar, Ministry of Health, and husband Tom for welcoming us at the airport and for your continued love over the last 4 years. To Catherine’s boss Eunicio and his wife Rachel: An honor to meet both of you and enjoy wonderful conversation at dinner. Dr. Lulu Fundikira, you are one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met and I know it is because of you that your residents are so dedicated and feel comfortable in the learning atmosphere you have created for them. I love and admire you!

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