When the Jubilee Hope Medical Programme was launched back in 2014, an important element of its design was that it should complement and work collaboratively with existing regional and local health services.
Although medical services on the islands are limited, a small number of dispensaries mostly run by Africa Inland Church Tanzania, are strategic locations where community members and visiting fishermen can receive medical attention. Whilst the ship has the capacity to visit the islands regularly bringing a team of highly skilled health professionals and specialist equipment, the dispensaries are a permanent fixture on the islands, providing a reference point for the community members for treatment, medication, education and counselling.
Recognising their important role, for the past 5 years the Jubilee Hope medical ship activities have been designed to work closely with the dispensaries in all aspects of the work. Furthermore, the Programme has actively supported activities aimed at strengthening the dispensaries and their capacity to respond to the health needs of the communities and the large numbers of nomadic fishermen that visit.
This support has included capital investment, providing training to the personnel and the incorporation of the dispensaries into the national medical supplies network which has allowed them to receive medicines and equipment from the regional government. Not only has this improved the quality of services they can provide, but has also supported their objective of becoming more sustainable in the long term.
The fruits of this collaboration, combined with the professionalism, hard work and dedication of the dispensary personnel have never been so visible as during the past 12 months.
With many health services being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Jubilee Hope medical ship, the dispensaries have underlined how important their role is in delivering health care to the remote islands of Lake Victoria, providing over 25,000 consultations during 2020.