The Dispensary

Sep 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Newsletters, Updates

Diane Van Paridon and Sarah Neil, our dispensary volunteers, pose with the Okaseni village ladies who originally staffed the dispensary when it was first set up in 2010.

As promised in my last posting, here’s more about our trip in June to Okaseni, the village in Tanzania that the Africa Village Project Association (AVPA) is helping.

Another project that we funded this June was the local dispensary. We started this dispensary during our 2010 trip. Special thanks go to our pharmacist on Bowen Island, Bud Massender of Cates Pharmacy, who donated supplies that helped stock the new dispensary shelves. During this year’s trip (2012), we replenished the medical supplies in the dispensary. We would like to thank Dr Hansen Liang of White Rock, BC, for his kind donation, which funded most of these purchases.

Starting the dispensary

Diane Van Paridon (in the red shirt) sets up the dispensary during our 2010 trip. She is stocking medical supplies while Melki (in the cap) and two of the village women look on. Sarah Neil, another friend who accompanied us,
helps to unpack the supplies.

On our trip to Okaseni in 2010, we were accompanied by several people interested in helping the AVPA. One of them, Diane Van Paridon, a Medical Laboratory instructor at BCIT, suggested that we set up a small dispensary. We were thrilled with this great idea (thanks, Diane!) and authorized the purchase of medical supplies and furnishings for it. We bought about $800 CDN worth of supplies and two bookcases to serve as cupboards for storage. (Thanks again to Bud, our wonderful Bowen pharmacist, who donated supplies.)

The village chairperson, Melki Mushi, found a room in a house near to the village office in which to set up the dispensary. It was good to go!

Diane and Sarah Neil, another AVPA volunteer who was interested in medicine (thanks, Sarah!), purchased the supplies and set the dispensary up. After the set-up, Diane held a tutorial for Melki and the village women who had agreed to staff the dispensary. She reviewed the medical supplies and gave them some basic training in medical procedures.

We were delighted with how quickly and effectively the dispensary was created and wish to thank everyone who was involved. Thanks especially to Diane, without whose vision and energetic work the dispensary would not have happened.

Melki and the dispensary volunteers listen as Diane gives a brief tutorial after the dispensary was set up and stocked in 2010.

Restocking and staffing the dispensary

While in Tanzania this June (2012), we discovered that – as you can imagine – the dispensary was very low on supplies. So Dale and Melki  spent one morning purchasing about $600.00 CDN worth of medical supplies in Moshi, the nearest large town to Okaseni. (Thanks again to Dr. Hansen for his generous donation for these purchases.)

We were delighted to find out that a qualified medical technician who works at the official government dispensary in a nearby village has been volunteering at our dispensary two days a week. Apparently, long lines form whenever she is there and the quality of health care in the village has improved. We were so pleased to hear that – this is one of the things we have wanted the AVPA to accomplish in Okaseni.

Housing the dispensary

However, we found out to our dismay that the dispensary was no longer operating in the original house. (Apparently, the owner wanted to be paid independently by the villagers.) So the dispensary was now in the village office building – not the ideal situation. The office does not have a dedicated room for the dispensary, and there is not enough space to carefully store the supplies.

The Okaseni Village office building is now (2012) housing the dispensary. But the building is very small, with minimal space for storing supplies or consulting with patients.

This was quite disappointing. What to do? Keep your eyes peeled for the next update, when I’ll tell you what we did – and more . . . !!

  • Melody

    I see okaseni is near Moshi but where is it from there? Do you have a trained pharmacist dispensing or how does to work with the Tanzanian health dept. my family is planning a trip back to Mbeya where we were with Cuso. Not for several years but I am looking for ideas to support when we start the plan to go. I am in Vancouver BC
    Melody Hainsworth