Medical service corps in Tanzania

The Catholic Church has worked in Tanzania for 150 years. The Church is committed to improving the quality of education, nutrition and medical services and to offering a shelter for the refugees. As one of the most important hands in abolition of slaves, the Roman Catholic Church is a highly respected religious group in the country. Fr. Jean-Pascal Lombart served as a volunteer in Tanzania from 1989 to 1991, and has not only learned Kiswahili language and Maasai, the aboriginal dialect but also immersed himself in the local culture of Tanzania. By doing so, he established a solid ground of mutual trust upon which he built cooperation with the local church.

National Tsing-Hua University founded the “Tanzania Education Volunteer Group” in 2008 and invited Fr. Jean-Pascal Lombart to serve as its supervisor and consultant. The rich resources of Taiwan could thus be shared by the knowledge-craving school kids in Tanzania.

In 2011, Fr. Jean-Pascal Lombart founded “Taiwan Africa International Service Association”, an NGO committed to sustainable development of international volunteer service, promotion of a Taiwan-Africa cooperative platform based upon mutual interest and to formation of leaders for Taiwan and the international society. Under the supervision of Taiwan-Africa International Service Association, the Service-Learning Center and the School of Medicine at Fu Jen Catholic University organized the “Medical Service-Learning Corps in Tanzania” which conducted 2 weeks of medical service and public health investigation in Maasai tribe in Tanzania.

Tanzania is a country with spacious land capacity, scenic landscape and simple people who live in rather primitive manners. Unfortunately, due to insufficient medical resources, the lack of health education and the failure in disease control, many tribal regions are ravished by AIDS and many other epidemic diseases. Women suffer from multiple challenges during pregnancy and while parturition. In the tribal area of Maasai, pregnant women have no access to accurate medical information. The shortage in medical staff, from physicians, nurses, to technicians and the limitation imposed upon women from the patriarchal tradition, the mothers and babies are not properly taken care of. Consequently, there is a high rate of infection, infant mortality, and maternal mortality. Countless lives are lost in Tanzania due to the lack of medical resources.

Confronting the scarcity of medical and health educational resources in Maasai, Tanzania, the faculty and students conducted service-learning equipped a great sense of responsibility, compassion, and more importantly their professional knowledge and skills. Under the supervision of Fr. Jean-Pascal Lombart and the Taiwan-Africa International Service Association, Professor Kuo-Inn Tsou, Dean of the College, and Professor Ping-Keung Yip, Chair of the School of Medicine, and Professor Huey-Tzy Chen, Chair of the Department of Nursing participated and guided the students to use their professional knowledge and skills in medicine to help solve problems in sanitation and provide education for maternal and infant care for the aboriginal people in Maasai tribal region.