Australia for Cedar Tanzania, Nominee for The Change-Maker Award, 2023 Africa Award
By AAMEG | 5 September 2023
Australia for Cedar Tanzania is a registered Australian charity and not-for-profit financially supporting sister organisation Tanzania-based NGO Cedar Tanzania to lift health outcomes, improve education levels, empower women and vulnerable groups in society, and increase entrepreneurial opportunities in some of the poorest areas in Tanzania.
About 90 per cent of Tanzanians live in rural areas and live off the land where they can grow on the land. Their mission is to create positive and sustainable change in sub-Saharan communities empowering people to live free of poverty and to have access to quality healthcare services.
Cedar Tanzania projects take place in the Nyamatongo Ward in the Sengerema District in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania. A “ward” is a geographical area in which several small villages are located. Nyamatongo Ward covers around 100km2 and is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria in the north-western Tanzania, and has approximately 35,000 inhabitants.
Within the Nyamatongo Ward, Cedar Tanzania constructed and now operates the Kamanga Health Centre, which features an Outpatient department and maternal ward including antenatal care, children clinic and family planning services averaging 1500 patients/month and safely delivering 50+ babies/month. It is staffed by trained local Community Health Workers and volunteers from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Across Tanzania, people with disabilities face severe discrimination, denying them civil, cultural, political, social, and economic rights and leaving them vulnerable to neglect or abuse. People with disabilities bear the double burden of poverty and exclusion due to financial, social, and environmental barriers coupled with the high degree of stigma experienced by people with disabilities across Tanzania.
Reaching disabled people at a much earlier stage of disease would bring about great advantages within health, social, and financial outcomes. Disabled people with better overall health and social inclusion will better the communities as a whole and have a positive economic effect on the societies in which they live.
INITIATIVE: REDUCING STIGMA FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN NYAMATONGO WARD
For this nomination, Cedar Tanzania has highlighted their work to increase inclusion in society of people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups through an outreach service customised to this region because here, as elsewhere in Tanzania, people with disabilities such as leprosy, epilepsy or cerebral palsy, are often excluded and mistreated due to various local beliefs and norms. Their work comprises mobile outreach and education programs.
- This initiative improves health outcomes, social outcomes, and financial outcomes for people with disabilities and their households by going out to meet the patient in their home thus overcoming physical, distance and financial barriers to healthcare.
- Medical support to people with disabilities by Mobile Outreach Teams (MOT) consisting of two medical officers, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist trained in riding off-road motorbikes.
- The MOTs drive to the furthest and most unattainable areas of the Nyamatongo Ward, unreachable by many because this area has very few dirt roads, and mostly consists of tracks not driveable with a car.
- The MOTs deliver information and care on prevention of secondary diseases; and maintains accurate health records on condition, treatment, and progress as well as preventative care provided.
- Extensive information provided to families and guardians on the provision of appropriate care of living with disabilities, in part with awareness and information campaigns throughout the local communities
- The outreach team delivers individually tailored healthcare services to each person living with a disability residing in the Nyamatongo Ward.
KAMANGA HEALTH CENTRE WORK
- Centralised physio and occupational therapy offered twice/week at dedicated facilities within Cedar Tanzania’s hospital, Kamanga Health Centre.
- Health education and promotion of therapy and rehabilitation, its benefits, and expected outcomes to families and carers of people with disabilities to mitigate some of the many nutritional deficiencies.
- Improving first encounter with healthcare by training locally elected Community Health Workers to understand that people with disability experience the physical, social, and mental barriers in the Nyamtongo Ward to build a higher level of respect and care people with disabilities receive in their local communities.
- Delivery of two large health promotion events/year providing education and information to the wider community on types, causes, and prevention of disabilities and secondary diseases aimed at decreasing widespread stigma for people with disabilities.
- Focus placed on inclusion for people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups across all our projects normalising their participation in common activities.
- Cedar Tanzania purposefully encourages village elders and village councils to include the voices of people with disabilities in official and semi-official meetings and decisions.
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