Tanzanian mothers and kids thankful to Robin Hood

Published: 22 June 2011

Day 3 - Definitely the most striking day of our trip, dealing with disabilities. It should be said that Tanzania has a very high rate of people affected by disabilities, most of them caused by lacking of maternal care. In other words, newborns supposed to live a heathy life (no congenital deformity, no mental disease) get disabilities, even before breathing for the first time, because their mothers are not assisted during labour (sometimes lasting 3 days because they are left alone!). 

We had the pleasure to meet Frederick Msigallah, Advocacy Officer for CCBRT, Comprehensive Community Based, Rehabilitation in Tanzania. CCBRT is a symbol in Dar es Salaam, being a hospital treating disabilities since 1994. It first started treating eyes diseases and now treats almost every type of disability. As Mr Msigallah explained, Tanzania, a peaceful and not the poorest Country in Africa, is the 5th Country in the World for neonatal mortality. This gives an idea of how poor is maternal care. It is not uncommon in hospitals to find three women in the same bed waiting for giving birth, especially in big cities where more and more people from rural areas are converging. And it is not uncommon to have just one nurse assisting ten or more women during labour. That is why, besides assistance to people with disabilities, CCBRT is investing in prevention and child care.

CCBRT, aware that the State cannot afford medical expenses for Tanzanian people, is using a "Robin Hood" payments system. Of course they are not robbing from the rich, but they ask them more money than to poor people, having both almost the same service. This is not an expectable choice in a World where people who have money can go to hospitals and people who don't have money can die (even in Countries that were used to be concerned about Welfare).

Anyway CCBRT is not just a hospital. In fact they set an employment agency for people with disabilities. They work with NGOs that can train people, matching them to employers. There are many successful stories, as Dario De Nicola, Country Director in Tanzania for CEFA, an Italian NGO, would tell. CEFA organizes classes of housekeeping, bakery, carpentry and gardening for people with disabilities. They usually have the course plus three months of apprenticeship. The result: around the 30% of the students are then hired by the company. Actually we could appreciate the ability (YES ability!) of the students of the bakery class who prepared for us the most delicious pizza I have ever tried out of Italy.