Taka’s trips to Tanzania improve community health

Taka Wild and one of the many patients she see on her trips to TanzaniaNurse Taka Wild has made it her mission to improve the health of a small rural community in Tanzania by helping to provide necessary surgery on her visits to the town of Mwanza.

The Registered Anaesthetic Nurse, who works at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, has just returned from her tenth trip to the town near Lake Victoria where she and a team of medical professionals perform operations on people with a variety of problems, including congenital defects, and severe oil and fire burns.

On this trip, the team of surgeons and nurses spent eight days at the local hospital and assessed 109 patients, many of whom were in desperate need of surgery.

Taka says the residents of the town are victims of both their isolation and their lifestyle.

“We are able to correct congenital defects such as cleft and lip palates where previously these people have shied away from society and have not had access to help,” said Taka.

“As cooking is done on an open fire, we also see a lot of burns and contractures where the burns haven’t healed properly.”

“The hospital is so far away and the medical officers at the clinic nearby don’t have the experience to help them with anything serious.”

Non-profit organisation Rafiki Surgical Missions provide logistical support for the trips and in her role as Missions Coordinator, Taka recruits and organises the surgical team and works as an Anaesthetic Nurse.

The team consisted of two plastic surgeons, two anaesthetists, five nurses and one physiotherapist.

Residents of the town hear about the visit from the Australian surgeons through radio advertisements, posters and flyers and word spreads like wildfire.

“The patients really need these operations to make their lives bearable,” said Taka. “They are so grateful to have surgery that is long overdue.”

These trips are always a grounding experience for Taka.

“Seeing what these people live with really makes you live your life differently,” said Taka.

“Their lives are so harsh and it is amazing to be able to help.”

Taka is getting organised for their next mission in April 2014.

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