Global health doctor: healthcare in Tanzania

February 11, 2021

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Becoming a global health doctor requires that you find a way to get global health experience abroad as a premed or prehealth student. If you are interested in a career in global health you need an understanding of international healthcare which focuses on the health of populations in addition to individual patient care.

Whether you want to be a doctor, physician assistant, nurse, or midwife, an international perspective can help your career. As a global health doctor, you will encounter patients from different backgrounds and cultures, so getting worldly experience is important training for you.

Getting global health experience in Africa is a highly educational experience because the public health crises are different than the ones facing Europe or the United States. 

Our program in Tanzania helps you experience healthcare in the country from all perspectives. With the help of a medical doctor and global health expert, we have curated a program that will help you build your experience portfolio. You will shadow doctors at a local health center and speak with tribal healers about their traditional methods. This is a chance to observe medical cases that few premed or prehealth students get the chance to. 

Global health in Tanzania

The Tanzanian healthcare system holds many interesting cases for premed and prehealth students to observe. 

A global health doctor should learn about the public health issues and trends that are affecting a population. According to a Global Burden of Disease study from 2019, Tanzania’s top ten causes of death are as follows:

  1. Neonatal disorders
  2. Lower respiratory infections
  4. lschemic heart disease
  5. Tuberculosis
  6. Congenital defects
  7. Malaria
  8. Diarrheal diseases
  9. Stroke
  10. Diabetes

Understanding statistics like these help global health doctors know what to look for and what to expect when patients come to the healthcare facility. As a premed student, you may not get the chance to observe tropical diseases like malaria in your home country. Similarly, HIV/AIDS are not as common to other parts of the world. 

Cultural traditions and stigmas also affect healthcare in Tanzania. For example, one healthcenter in Tanzania noticed there were many HIV/AIDS patients coming in with liver complications. They realized they were not coming in for their regular check ups as much as they should because of the stigma against people with HIV, which was in turn leading to more health issues. 

Tribal healers are a point of a care for some Tanzanians, particularly in rural communities. These healers are sometimes more easily accessible to patients, or some patients hold more trust in the healers than in western medicine and modern healthcare facilities. 

There are other cultural practices, like female genital mutilation, that are still prevalent in Tanzania, but you may not see in your home country. One in ten Tanzanian women are circumcised, according to the World Health Organization. This presents some issues for women when they are giving birth, which can also contribute to the number of neonatal complications.

Getting global health experience in any country can be a valuable contribution to your resume. Tanzania is one country where the culture and public health issues may be very different than what you would see shadowing a doctor at home. It is the perfect opportunity to observe how culture impacts healthcare.

Becoming a global health doctor

If you are interested in a career in global health or becoming a global health doctor, there are some factors you should consider.

Clarify your motivations before pursuing a career as a global health doctor. What do you hope to gain from pursuing medicine internationally? What do you hope to give back through global health?

You should also consider what kind of lifestyle you will have if you plan to live or work abroad. The best way to understand if this is the right path for you is to travel and observe medicine in different cultures.

On our global health experience program in Tanzania, you will shadow doctors at a local health center to observe as they diagnose and treat patients. These health centers perform regular healthcare check ups and vaccinations, but they also handle medical ailments such as trauma injuries, malarial cases, heart conditions, HIV/AIDS, and diabetic complications. 

There is such a range of what they have to handle so it’s a great location for you to get healthcare experience. You will also see how they deal with a lack of resources in the health center, patients in poverty, and the effects of cultural practices on patient health. 

In addition to shadowing medical doctors at a modern healthcare facility, you will experience two different tribal communities – the Maasai and the Hehe. You will go to each tribe for a day and speak with a traditional healer in that community. You will be able to ask questions through a translator, so that you can get a picture of his treatment methods and the types of cases he sees. You will also have time to explore the tribal community itself so that you can observe the lifestyle factors that may impact healthcare for the population.

As a premed student, you know shadowing a doctor is an important part of your education. Shadowing a doctor on the front lines of an international healthcare facility is an even greater challenge and educational experience.  

There is a need for all kinds of medical professionals in global and public health, including doctors, physician assistants, nurses, or midwives. No matter which career you want, you can likely find work with a healthcare organization if that is the path you choose. 

Our global health experience program in Tanzania gives you a curated, fully residential experience for you to build your portfolio. You can be confident that you will get the most out of your experience because we take care of everything. 

Throughout the application process we will answer all your questions. And as soon as you step off the plane, our team is there to take you to our beautiful guesthouse, our chef will prepare your meals, and you will have 24/7 support. You will even get to go on a weekend safari so that you can view the most majestic wildlife in East Africa!

If you want to learn more about our global health experience program, check out our dates, fees, and application process here