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Thursday, November 17, 2016
Health Improvement Project Zanzibar started by Taunton consultant Ruaraidh Macdonagh assisting African hospitals!
Ruaraidh MacDonagh and Dr Mohamed Jiddawi, the former principal secretary to the Ministry of Health in Zanzibar.
TENS of thousands of women in rural Zanzibar are getting safer and better quality maternity care thanks to a charity set up by a Taunton consultant.
Modern ultrasound machines costing £10,000 each have been delivered to two hospitals in the African country, funded through Health Improvement Project Zanzibar (HIPZ), founded by Dr Ruaraidh MacDonagh ten years ago.
It has resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of mothers-to-be attending ante-natal clinics in hospitals in Makunduchi and Kivunge, giving clinicians and parents access to medical imaging of babies for the first time.
"The machines are key to the management of pregnancy for ante-natal scans and at the time of delivery," said Dr MacDonagh, a consultant urological surgeon at Musgrove Park Hospital."They're perfect for Africa - very robust, easy to work and repair.
"They've made a huge difference, and led to a massive increase in ante-natal clinic visitors and much improved mortality rates.
"Staff at the hospitals tell us that parents really love being able to see their baby and that ultrasound is proving to be a real lifesaver in Zanzibar."
Before HIPZ was founded, the two hospitals, which serve a combined population of 350,000, had fallen into disrepair, with no doctors, few trained nurses and no drugs, supplies or medical equipment.
Dr MacDonagh and his wife, Rebecca Mann, who runs the neo-natal unit at Musgrove, spent six months in Zanzibar after setting up the charity.
Other colleagues at the Taunton hospital, including his registrar Nick Campain, and staff from other NHS establishments have taken unpaid leave from their jobs to contribute their expertise over the years.
"It's something which I take great pleasure doing," said Dr MacDonagh.
"A fantastic team of people is involved and basically keeps the project going - they oversee, facilitate and train staff so it's sustainable, and they deliver services to a certain extent.
"They're amazing - they could be earning lots of money over here, but they're freely giving of their time in an often challenging and frustrating environment, although it is also extremely rewarding."
Dr MacDonagh, who plans to visit Zanzibar in February for a fundraising event - if you wish to join in contact him via HIPZ.org.uk - added: "We need to raise £10,000 a month to keep it all going and lack of funds means you don't always have the equipment you need, staff numbers are low and access to drugs is a problem.
"It makes you realise how fantastic the NHS is - I know it isn't perfect, but we take it so much for granted."
His son-in-law, singer Peter Andre, has been out to Zanzibar to see the project in action and has also helped fundraise - he recently staged a gig in support of HIPZ.
He is expecting his second child next month with Dr MacDonagh's daughter, Emily, herself a doctor.