Nonprofit Organization Led by UC Faculty Continues to Help Impoverished in Africa
Published October 2010
Village Life Outreach Project, Inc., a local nonprofit organization, has been reaching out to provide health care and education to people in the East African nation of Tanzania since 2004.
And with the construction of a new, permanent medical clinic, Chris Lewis, MD, founder of the organization and a faculty member in the department of family and community medicine, says the mission continues to grow and strengthen.
"The new clinic, called the Roche Health Center, will provide the first-ever access to permanent health care for more than 20,000 impoverished villagers and will serve as an international training ground for UC students and faculty from a variety of disciplines,” he says.
Over 200 UC-affiliated individuals from the colleges of design, architecture, art and planning (DAAP), medicine, engineering, nursing, pharmacy and allied health sciences have been involved in Village Life, providing care and education for these populations.
The Roche project, under the leadership of Michael Zaretsky, assistant professor in the school of architecture and interior design within DAAP, began its first phase in March 2010 and is scheduled to be completed by January 2011. The clinic, located in Tanzania, will serve the health care needs of the entire region which previously lacked access to consistent health care.
"This new clinic provides access to medicines, vaccines, obstetric and gynecological care, as well as acute and preventive medical treatment for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, intestinal parasites and a host of other diseases,” Lewis adds. "In addition, we are able to provide international training for Cincinnati-area professionals, faculty, students and volunteers from diverse backgrounds and fields, enhancing training and knowledge that encourages them to incorporate service and humanitarianism in their various fields of study and practice.”
The construction of Roche Health Center hinges on sustainability and involves minimizing energy requirements and using only locally available materials. A mixture of soil and cement is placed in a hand-operated press that yields a building brick far stronger than traditional kiln-fired bricks, without the deforestation required in the firing process.
Phase 1 involves the construction of the outpatient clinic building, which includes a registration area, laboratory, pharmacy, four exam rooms and storage space.
Phase 2 includes staff housing and additional training space; phase 3—the final phase—is anticipated to be complete in 2015 and includes an observation wing and inpatient ward that offers services for obstetric, pediatric and minor surgical procedures.
For more information on the project, visit rochehealthcenter.blogspot.com. For more information on Village Life, to donate or to get involved, visit villagelifeoutreach.org.