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Dr. Paul Erikson writes:
"Last year, our family spent the school year volunteering at Selian Hospital in central Tanzania.

I practiced medicine there, heading the children's ward and supervising the outpatient department. The hospital tends to 40,000 patients a year. Our daughter Sophie (13) volunteered in the child health clinic weighing babies, and Mama home-schooled our four daughters, ages 7, 9, 12, and 13.

There was always a child on the ward with HIV or AIDS. The problem is devastating a huge population of Africa. The children were often cared for by their grandparents because both parents were already dead.

The clinic did provide prenatal care. These were women from the villages, many with other children. They were your average families of this African community. One month, we did a study to learn of the prevalence of HIV in these women and found that 34 percent of the women were positive for the virus. They had no knowledge of it.

What we know is that about one-third of babies born to mothers who are infected will be infected also. There were no medicines there to treat HIV or the AIDS disease.

The best hope is preventive education. Selian Hospital had started an HIV prevention program. This is the best hope for this area. Any help to their program would be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Jacobson and the team at Selian Hospital are heroes."

by Dr. Paul Erikson

Selian Hospital serves a population of about 150,000 people, most of whom are part of the Maasai tribe. The medical director is Dr. Mark Jacobson, who has been in Arusha with his wife Linda.

Julie Talen visited her family while they were working as volunteers at Selian Lutheran Hospital in Tanzania. The director, Dr. Jacobson, has devoted the last 15 years caring for the sick here. Julie shared her video interview with Dr. Jacobson:

Dr. Jacobson said, "This hospital has been here as a dispensary since about 1958. Then in 1985, we saw the need to expand the clinic into a full hospital and we started gathering support for that. We have been building ever since. Selian Hospital has gone from a 10-bed clinic to a 110-bed hospital, now serving about 40,000 patients a year. It's a big operation.

"We identified our first case (of AIDS) here in about 1984 and now we are running about 30 percent of the patient population as HIV positive, so it's a huge problem."

Julie: "And is AZT available for these patients?"

"We can treat the complications of their disease, but we don't have availability of the anti-viral agents," said Jacobson.

In 2001, the University of Minnesota awarded Dr. Jacobson the Outstanding Achievement Award, recognizing his heroism and dedication.

Written by Dr. Paul Erikson
Last changed on: 6/2/2004 4:47:51 PM

Selian Lutheran Hospital in Arusha, Tanzania This Web site is run by the organization that is helping to raise funds for the hospital,
Augustana Lutheran Church.
Phone (651)457-3373

Jacobson Mission

Global HIV/AIDS Program Development: AIDS in Africa: Heartbreak and Hope

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