It’s two years since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. Calls for pandemic preparedness that were made before the viral disease became known, have resulted in meaningful action at Mwananyamala Regional Referral Hospital during the outbreak.
An old, dilapidated building existed at Mwananyamala as a temporary isolation unit, in preparedness for a likely Ebola outbreak. That was before the first patient of COVID-19 was reported in Tanzania.
During the first wave of COVID-19, the building was turned into a quarantine site. According to Dr Zavery Benela, the Medical Officer in Charge of the hospital, it was used to accommodate patients suspected of COVID-19 despite being in poor condition.
By then, Dr Benela says, “It wasn’t well developed. The basement floor had no concrete, it had no ceiling and lacked doors. There was a pressing need to improve its condition for providing health services to COVID-19 suspected patients.”
The building has so far been modernized, making it more hospitable for clients and healthcare providers, following interventions under Pambana na Korona Project implemented by the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) under the UNFPA support.
In its current form, the building is known as an isolation unit and has a ceiling, modern toilets, painted walls and doors. It has a spacious waiting area with modern chairs and sanitizing equipment for clients who can now receive a wide range of health services such as COVID-19 testing services for those who want to travel abroad.
“We are serving 30 to 40 clients per day,” says Dr Benela. “This is an important contribution to public health, especially in the fight against the pandemic.”
The refurbished isolation units have generally contributed to improved availability of health services against the communicable diseases including COVID-19.
Baraka Msike, a social welfare officer deployed at Mwananyamala Regional Hospital by BMF says the building has made it easier for him to refer patients from the hospital, who need testing services
“As a social welfare officer, I provide psychosocial support to a number of patients. Some come to me with a lot of questions and for advice on COVID-19 testing. It’s now easier for me, it’s convenient to tell them to come to this building for the services.”