In November 2016, the spirit of kindness, generosity and collaboration saved a number of lives in the Lake Region. Under the leadership and co-ordination of the Council for Western Tanzania, the Madras Medical Mission (MMM) Centre of Hyderabad, India, delivered critical cardiac medical services to patients at the Bugando Medical Centre, a hospital that has seen a disproportionate amount of deaths due to heart disease. The professionals from MMM screened 220 patients, 10 of whom received lifesaving surgery and 55 received medical intervention for hypertensive heart disease.
The services rendered by MMM, through the sponsorship of a philanthropic individual and the Council, address a significant healthcare gap facing those living the Lake Region. A 2013 American study revealed that the leading cause of increased hospital admissions and deaths at Bugando Centre was due to poor heart health and hypertension. More than half of these deaths occurred in people before retirement age.
Understanding these critical needs, the work in November was instigated by a local Shia Muslim business person in the Lake Community, who proposed to share the responsibility of bringing the medical professionals to Bugando with the Council of Western Tanzania. This proposal demonstrates a strong and wonderful example of partnerships across faiths to demonstrate a commitment to the shared value of providing aid and kindness to humanity.
The Madras Medical Mission roots come from the Orthodox Church of India and claims Mother Theresa as one of their chief patrons. Like the mission of the Aga Khan Development Network, MMM’s mission is service towards all, without differentiation of cast, creed, colour or religion.
President Altaf Hirani outlined these shared values by sharing a quote from Hazir Imam’s 1983 speech at the Aga Khan Baug in India: “There are those… who enter the world in such poverty that they are deprived of both the means and the motivation to improve their lot. Unless these unfortunates can be touched with the spark which ignites the spirit of individual enterprise and determination, they will only sink back into renewed apathy, degradation and despair. It is for us, who are more fortunate, to provide that spark”
The Bugando Health Centre hopes to have another session in the near future to provide more screening to local residents once sufficient funds are raised to invite the MMM team back.