My university doesn’t currently offer an elective placement as part of my Paramedic Science degree. So, before I started my third and final year, myself and two friends from uni decided to do a two-week paramedic placement in Tanzania. It was amazing.
I’d always been really interested in healthcare abroad, so it seemed too much of a good opportunity to miss out on.
Work the World welcomed us at the airport and took us to the house we’d be living in. We arrived at about 2am so we went straight to bed. After a great sleep, we were given a full tour of the lovely house and grounds and met our other housemates.
On Monday morning we went on a city tour to find our feet and gain our whereabouts, and we were taken to our placement hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital it was immediately apparent it was going to be so different to what I’m used to back home. Outside the main entrance of the hospital there was a dead body, which we assume had been just brought to the hospital - albeit too late.
The hospital was so busy. There were multiple people in beds and patients sat on the floor. Some people travelled hours, even days to reach the city hospital.
People in Tanzania had to pay for their healthcare, so many people left it as late as possible before coming to hospital. They didn’t have primary care facilities nor did they have the money to pay for treatments. This led to patients presenting with very advanced cases.
Even when they finally reached the hospital, depending on what treatments were needed, there were times when their families couldn’t afford certain medications. It was hard to witness the staff not being able to help them but I had to accept this was their way, and it gave me such an appreciation of the NHS.
During my time on placement I spent time in the ED, a burns unit, oncology, and paediatrics. As I’m studying paramedic science this placement offered me total flexibility to rotate through the hospital. The staff were great, spoke excellent English and were keen to get me involved.
I also spent time at a children’s cancer ward. The children were so lovely and happy, it was incredibly humbling.
The house was great, it had lovely gardens, chill-out areas and a fab swimming pool. We had our language lessons in the house, which were super useful. Each week we’d have a fun BBQ night too. It was so good to be able to unwind and get to know my housemates.
After placement we’d all go out and explore local markets, and a place called Slipway, which is an area packed full of bars, restaurants, shops on the seafront. We did everything, from going on city bike ride tours to skydiving, which was insane. I loved every minute of it. There was so much to do in Dar es Salaam, let alone the rest of Tanzania.
On our middle weekend we all went on safari, and I know it’s been said before but it really was incredible. We had a fantastic guide for the whole weekend and we saw everything. Animals were walking right up to our truck, I can’t recommend it enough to you.
At the end of my two weeks in Dar es Salaam we decided to pop over to nearby Zanzibar Island for a few days before we headed home. It was stunning, we just wished we had longer on this incredible tropical island.
Since I’ve been back I’ve been speaking to my course leader and showing her photos from my time overseas, they are now considering adding an overseas placement to the course.
Myself and my two friends are in the process of booking another placement back to Dar es Salaam next year with Work the World. My biggest regret was not going for longer. I want to do some fundraising too for the hospital and local communities.
I could not recommend Dar es Salaam enough for a healthcare placement, hence I am going back next year!