BENEFITING: Touch Foundation
ORGANIZER: Touch Foundation
EVENT DATE: Nov 03, 2013
The United States spends more on healthcare as a percentage of its GDP than any other country in the world. Even with this massive amount of funding, the Healthcare Debate that engulfs living rooms and courtrooms alike across the country remains complex: choosing between free market or publically funded solutions, managing increasing costs efficiently, and deciding to what degree society should be responsible for healthcare. Yet while this discussion rages on at home, there are those around the world whose discussion is far simpler, and whose threat is far worse.
Today, Tanzania has one of the worst doctor-to-patient ratios in the world; one doctor for every 200,000 people. In comparison, the UK alone has over one hundred and seventy thousand doctors to care for a population of less than sixty three million (a ratio of 1:370). What is the result of Tanzania’s medical personnel deficit? A healthcare system that ranks among the top 25 in both infant and maternal mortality rates, with over 1.4 million people living with HIV.
While the numbers speak for themselves, we can all understand Tanzania’s epidemic more intimately by looking at the own health care service. I have six doctors that I see on an annual basis: a primary care physician, a dentist, a neurologist, a dermatologist, a sports medicine specialist. In Tanzania, there is one doctor for every 200,000 people. The fact that many people in Tanzania never see a doctor during their entire life, while I see at least six every year, puts the scale of Tanzania’s healthcare crisis into perspective.
Fortunately, while the majority of us can sympathize with the healthcare situation in Tanzania, there are those out there actively making a difference, namely The Touch Foundation. The Touch Foundation operates with the primary goal of training and increasing the capacity of medical doctors, nurses, lab technicians, radiographers, and other medical workers throughout Tanzania. Ultimately, the foundation envisions creating a sustainable network of people and resources that will allow patients in even the most remote areas of the country to receive the medical treatment they need. Eventually, this system could serve as a model for other countries in sub-Saharan Africa to follow.
I first became aware of the healthcare crisis in Tanzania when my friend Hannah returned from a three month stint in Mwanza. Hannah spent three months in Tanzania doing fieldwork for the Touch Foundation, an organization striving to increase the number of trained healthcare workers in Tanzania. I was struck by many of Hannah’s experiences in Tanzania, but in particular, the level of poverty that exists largely as a result of poor healthcare. The ability to simply show up to work healthy and in full capacity is something I know I personally take for granted. Hannah’s message to me was that in Tanzania, no one has the luxury to take their health for granted.
To date, the Touch Foundation has witnessed incredible success through its efforts. The Foundation has currently contributed over $26 million in cash and in-kind contributions, which has helped graduate about 10% of all healthcare workers in Tanzania. These efforts are on pace to increase the number of doctors in Tanzania by 30% by 2014.
I am humbled to have the opportunity to partner with an organization that is having such direct and positive results on a tremendously important issue. With your help, I will raise over $3,000 for the Touch Foundation, and on November 3rd, run on behalf of those across Tanzania who could use our Touch!