Caring for the sick has always been a priority wherever the Missionary Benedictines established a mission. Today, in cooperation with the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, and indigenous Benedictine communities of women, we operate hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries not only in Tanzania, but also in Korea and the Philippines.
For decades, almost all healthcare professionals, lay and religious, were expatriates coming from Europe. Today, doctors, nurses, aides, and administrators are natives, many of whom have advanced from our nursing schools to university and medical school. Specialized training is oftentimes in Europe or America.
A great chunk of the annual budget of our monasteries in Africa which also operate a hospital or dispensaries goes to salaries for healthcare workers, even though the hospitals have special government status as “Regional Referral Hospital.” The Government promises financial support, however, the needed funds are not available. Health Insurance is minimal. Patients pay a minimal cost for care of medication, according to their means. Therefore, subsidies from our mission offices, through the generous support of friends and benefactors, make up the difference.
St. Benedict Hospital in Ndanda reports in early March of 2012:
- 2011 was a challenging year, especially with the departure of key hospital staff, including the administrator, two surgeons, and several nursing staff
- The financial crisis was another challenge with an increasing burden to pay the salary increase and higher cost for medical supplies
- Compared to the past two years, the total number of admissions and major surgeries increased, as did the number of out-patients who received treatment
- In-Patient Department:
- Admissions: 10,708 with an average bed occupancy of 75.3% - many times both wards for male and female patients were overcrowded. Average stay is 7.7 days
- Maternity: 2,095 deliveries and 371 Cesarean sections – average deliveries per day: 7 and one Cesarean section
- Surgery: increase to be recorded, especially in the orthopedic department
- Out-Patient Department:
- Admissions: 64,631 – daily average 177patients, a majority with Malaria
- Eye Clinic:
- 392 cataract surgeries – with 62 out of the total done at Ligula Hospital. The clinic also provided eye health education, cataract and trachoma screening at its village visits
This is just one example. The statistics of the other major hospitals are similar. For several facilities a technology update is certainly in order, especially for operating theaters, x-ray departments and laboratories. Healthcare professionals often work in overcrowded areas and building additions are called for meet today’s standard, a level that cannot be compared with those found in European countries or in America.