Being Sick in Rural Tanzania

Authored by:
Holly M.

Holly M.

Today, I returned to Iringa from Kidete, a small village located in the Mufindi district of Tanzania. My experiences there with my community and family have been some of the most meaningful relationships I have made. That being said, it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. On my third week being in Kidete, I started feeling…off. By Friday, I couldn’t even get out of bed. On Saturday, I finally decided to go to clinic, after my host mom nearly dragged me out the house.

From where I was in Kidete, the clinic was a 20-minute walk, 4-minute car ride, which is not bad at all, since you had to walk 30 minutes or more to get to other destinations. Justin, the program director, brought me to the clinic and helped navigate a somewhat stressful situation. We waited in line with other members of the community for less than 15 minutes, and then met with the doctor.

He has been at this clinic for over 15 years, and speaks pretty good English, which is a major bonus. I told him my symptoms (abdominal pain, weakness, lack of hunger, dehydration and diarrhea). It only took five minutes of talking for him to send me to the lab for three tests; malaria, typhoid, and parasite.

The testing did not take long at all and the lab technician was very friendly to me (as are most Tanzanians). For the three tests, it cost 9,000 TSH (roughly $4.50). I returned to the doctor with my results, and he diagnosed me with Typhoid.  For those of you who don’t know, Typhoid is one of the leading causes of mortality/mortality in developing countries. It is passed though water/food infected with human feces (gross). I have no clue how I got it, and never will. Luckily, it is easily treated with 10 days’ worth of antibiotics.  Before I came to Tanzania, I did get the typhoid vaccine. While it is only semi-protects you from Typhoid, it does tend to lessen the burden of the symptoms if you do get it.

So, have no fear when going to village! Your family will look out for you tooth and nail, and make sure you are in good health.


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