This blog entry is written byNancy Brinker, Chief of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State.Arusha, Tanzania
On Monday we arrived in Arusha, Tanzania and went directly to Meru District Hospital. The streets were lined with many supporters who are very appreciative of what President Bush has done for their people.
The Meru District Hospital was founded in 1968 as a rural health center and upgraded to a hospital in 1986. The hospital is a President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) partner that participates in all related health facility-based programs. The Reproductive and Child Health Clinic provides prenatal and postnatal services, vaccinations, and an outpatient department for women and children. The clinic treats approximately 1,300 malaria cases per month and provides prenatal care to approximately 550 women per month. The facility issues approximately 225 bed net vouchers to pregnant women per month. The clinic also provides voluntary HIV counseling and testing, Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission services (PMTCT), and HIV/AIDS care and treatment services.
To date, more than 3 million bed net vouchers have been distributed in Tanzania, roughly 1.9 million from PMI. The vouchers allow recipients to purchase bed nets from private retailers at a 75 percent discount. This hospital has almost 40,000 patients come through yearly. USAID senior project manager, fifty-three-year-old Patrick Swai, said mothers and children are given vaccinations, checked for Malaria and AIDS, and has been told that cancer screening is to be added soon. We brought bed nets with us today and President and Mrs. Bush passed them out.
We then visited the A to Z textile mill where we were briefed on the creation of the bed nets. The new nets last longer – up to five to seven years and this program has been very successful here. The President announced new steps in the bed net campaign. Within the next six months, the United States and Tanzania, in partnership with the World Bank and the Global Fund, will begin distributing 5.2 million free bed nets. This ambitious nationwide program will provide enough nets to protect every child between the ages of one and five in Tanzania.
We could see Mount Kilimanjaro from where we were. It is called Killy by the young people. The farms are small and carefully tended and one can only imagine the hopes and dreams of the farmers as their survival is based on this years crops. The weather because of the altitude is cooler than Dar se Salaam and along the road new hotels seem to be opening as well as tourist sites.
We then traveled to the Maasai Girls School where President and Mrs. Bush gave books to the students. Once again the roads are lined with children, mothers and many young boys.
When we arrived at the school we were entertained by the Maasai Tribe. The girls sang to us and thanked President Bush for the support to learn and be educated. They sang their praise and said education is the opportunity they need not to have to marry at this age.
Sister Mary Vertucci started this school 1998. She challenged us to make sure the school remains culturally acceptable and the men become supportive. Being educated and being a wife are not mutually exclusive.
Check out this article from Reuters about the school: