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|Zimbabwe Quick Facts|
|Language:||English, Shona, & Ndebele|
|Ethnic groups:||98.0% black, 1% White, & 1% Mixed Asians|
|Currency:||South African rand|
|Time zone:||Central Africa Time (UTC+2)|
View the image gallery from the 2011 mission
August 15th was the launch of STIMMA's first, of many, voyages to Zimbabwe. The team was comprised of 2 pharmacists (Veneta Anand and Venita Harris), 3 recent University of Waterloo Pharmacy graduates (Michael Collins, Kathryn Guse and Denise Kreutzwiser) and one teacher (Steph Voss). It was a small team that ventured almost 37 hours one way to help the Hospital Staff at Howard Hospital, located 80km north of Harare. The hospital is the referral centre for the Mazowe district of Mashonaland Central Province and has a catchment of greater than 270,000 people.
The team participated in a variety of activities at the Hospital. We were fortunate to work with the fantastic staff at Howard who provided the team with guidance and support as we tried to work within the guidelines and parameters of the Hospital. Munyaradzi Mukanhairi and Shingirai Nyatsambo worked side by side with the team and allowed us to fulfil the objectives of our 10 day trip. The difference between a pharmacist's role in Canada and Zimbabwe was very evident from the beginning. The pharmacist, although a trusted member of the health care team in Zimbabwe, definitely was not as involved in clinical practice as pharmacists in Canada. This was a departure from the teachings of our school, nonetheless, the students embraced their roles and discovered innovative ways to transfer their clinical knowledge to the staff at Howard.
The students delivered detailed medication presentations to the nursing staff explaining the use of certain medications. This was essential in order to prevent medication waste and to ensure the proper use and dispensing of medication. This tied in with a larger project that we undertook which was to inventory and destroy literally millions of USD worth of medication. The medicines were donated to Howard with the best of intentions, but due to (1) short expiration dates (2) large quantities that would never be used (3) unknown identity of medication (4) inability to sort through shipments due to lack of staff (5) insufficient space (6) inadequate labeling of drugs (different languages), and (7) no use for medication due to resistance, inappropriate therapy and poor efficacy; the medications were unable to be used and thus needed to be destroyed. The team identified molecules that needed to be saved and then helped with the destruction of the remainder of the inventory.
The team also participated in Doctor Rounds, HIV and ARV clinics, Mobile Community Outreach Clinics and observed surgery. The students maintained their professionalism and encountered variations to standard therapy and saw diseases and conditions most Clinicians in Canada would only read about.
Steph worked with the local schools and helped grade papers and showcased her unique teaching style to the class. Her kindness, gentle spirit and patience were very well received by the locals.
There are many memories we are going to take away from our inaugural trip to Zimbabwe. The most cherished memories are of going to be of the many friends we made. Yes, we did see poverty, disease and malnutrition, but what leaves a lasting impression is the kindness we received from the community. They welcomed us into their lives, their Church, their work, their families and most importantly their hearts.