Take your turn in supporting Tanzania's health system and thus granting people the medical access they need.
Like many African countries, Tanzania faces an acute shortage of health care workers. Low pay, poor working conditions and limited training programmes contribute to the problem, whilst the rising burden of HIV/AIDS treatment greatly amplifies the situation. Unfortunately, health standards in Tanzania have declined so much that it trails most other developing nations.
PMGY collaborate with a government hospital and community clinic within the Arusha and Meru district. Please note you can only be placed at one medical facility during your time with us. In some circumstances it may be possible to combine medical facilities during your time with us, but this will incur an additional $150 local payment as a medical donation to the new facility you are transferring over to.
We place volunteers at a government hospital located in the town of Tengeru, a neighbouring town of Arusha. Started originally as a women’s health centre, it currently caters to all kinds of general health matters. This tends to be the main placement for our medical volunteers.
We can place participants at the following departments: Dental, Diabetes Clinic, General Medical Consultation, Laboratory, HIV Awareness and Testing, Midwifery & Labour Ward, Newborn Care and Immunisations, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Optical, Paediatrics, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy (part-time), Prenatal Care & Antenatal Care, Radiology Surgery (Minor and Major) & Tuberculosis Wing.
It is a 24/7 facility and treats around 50 to 80 patients each day. The hospital has a strong maternity ward and around 500 newborns are delivered each month – so this is a very good placement for midwifery students. Some of the main cases treated at the hospital are malaria, phenomena and TB.
Volunteers will be working alongside qualified local staff from the specific departments. On your first day at the government hospital you will receive a full introduction from the matron, who will discuss with you what departments you’re interested in and devise a work schedule for you. Volunteers will have to be up a little earlier than usual for the first day as the induction begins at 07:30.
You can choose to spend your time within a number of different departments or focus on one or two. Whilst you will be assigned a specific member of staff to mentor you, it is important to understand that the staff are extremely busy. Therefore, you should be proactive, ask questions and be assertive in requesting additional guidance should you require it.
Working in a government hospital will come with its own set of challenges. You should be prepared to experience some strong emotions with the standards of the facilities and limited equipment available. Things tend to be a lot more laid-back in Tanzania and this lack of urgency can be frustrating as well as the impersonal way Tanzanian medical staff treat patients. Please be prepared for some eye-opening experiences, which may be difficult to cope with at times but ultimately highly rewarding. Throw yourself into the experience and challenge yourself to learn.
Our second medical placement is a community clinic that offers affordable healthcare to some of the poorest people in Arusha and surrounding areas. It is the first full-service charity clinic in Arusha. The clinic sees up to 3,000 patients per month, although it is relatively small in size. The patients are able to see a doctor, have blood work done, and most of the time receive prescription treatments for a very nominal fee.
The clinic has the following departments: General Medical Consultation, Minor Surgeries (largely fractures), Laboratory, Pharmacy, X-ray, Ultrasound
Participants will have the chance to work in each department. The head doctor and his team will mentor you throughout your time at the clinic. They will go out of their way to get you involved in every aspect of the work they do at the clinic. In the small surgery room, there may be opportunities for involvement in carrying out procedures such as circumcision, abscess/cyst/growth removal and drainage and stitching. Within the pharmacy you will learn about the different medication prescribed, mainly antibiotics, anti-worm, or antimalarial.
This placement is open to people of all medical backgrounds, including school leavers and 1st & 2nd year university students. You will get to witness a range of cases, largely malaria and typhoid. There are also quite a few obstetrics cases (some are aftermaths of illegal abortions), basic dentistry (consultation and removal only) and urinary infections.
If you’re looking to gain experience that will help further your medical career but also explore one of the most amazing countries in the world, then PMGY’s Tanzania Medical Programme is definitely the placement for you! All volunteers must be patient, flexible and motivated to ensure they make the most of their time at the placement.
IMPORTANT VISA INFO
On-arrival into Tanzania you will need to obtain a Tourist Visa. This costs $50 ($100 for US Citizens). You do not need to worry about this in advance as you can purchase the visa at the airport on-arrival.
Tanzanian law stipulates that all volunteers must have a work permit. If you’re joining PMGY in Tanzania for less than 90 days then you will need a CTA Work Permit. This costs $200 (£130). Our local team will process this on your behalf when you arrive in Arusha. Please make sure you have $200 in cash. Our local team will process this for you within the first couple of days of your arrival and return your passport to you with the work permit stamp inside it. Therefore, you do not need to obtain this work permit prior to arriving in Tanzania. If you are volunteering for more than 90 days then the work permit fee is $550 (around £345).
The total visa and work permit fee for the trip is $250 (approximately £160), or $300 for US citizens. You should bring this amount with you to Tanzania in cash (US dollars). The cost would be $600 for volunteers joining us in Tanzania for more than 90 days.
It is also mandatory to have the Yellow Fever Vaccination to enter Tanzania. Therefore, you must ensure you allow yourself plenty of time to arrange this immunisation before you go, as you will need to show your Yellow Fever Vaccination record to the immigration officials at the airport. There has been a lot of debate on this issue, as some health officials say it is not necessary to have the Yellow Fever Vaccination. However, from the personal experience of the PMGY team we have always been asked to show proof of our Yellow Fever Vaccination on entry into Tanzania and so strongly advise all our volunteers to do so as well to avoid any complications on-arrival. More recently, our UK team have been in direct contact with the Tanzania embassy who have now confirmed to us that the Yellow Fever Vaccination is now mandatory on entry into Tanzania.
You should arrive into Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code JRO) on the selected Sunday start date. Programmes start on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month. You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Sunday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day
ESSENTIAL PROGRAM INFORMATION
For the majority of our programmes you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the programme – particularly if you’re looking to travel between June and August, as spaces can fill up very quickly during this period.
It is best that you apply sooner rather than later as some of our programmes only have a limited capacity and spaces get filled very quickly.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
All volunteers will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the programme. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we DO NOT send a hardcopy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains literally everything you need to know – from what to pack, to how to obtain a visa, to local language guides. It is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you require any further information not covered in the Volunteer Handbook then our team are always on-hand to assist you.
Your level of involvement at the project is dictated by medical experience, duration of programme and willingness to get involved. The medical staff are accountable for you whilst you’re under their supervision, so it is completely up to them if you are permitted and want to get involved in hands-on procedures. Whilst previous PMGY volunteers have been given the chance to administer IV injections, dress wounds etc, we can never guarantee or promote hands-on involvement for participants regardless of their medical experience or background.
Generally speaking those with little or no medical experience assume a largely observational role. If you are studying medically related degree, then you should have more opportunity to undertake some more basic hands-on involvement. However, to reiterate we can never guarantee or endorse hands-on experience should you choose to get hands-on, as the decision ultimately lies with the medical staff.
PMGY volunteers are based in the quiet suburbs of the city of Arusha, near the foot of Mount Meru, Africa’s fifth highest mountain at 4,556m (14,947ft).
This vibrant African city is an excellent base and for the most part, it is lush, green and enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year thanks to its altitude. You will find all the amenities you could need in Arusha including banks, supermarkets and international standard hospitals as well as excellent restaurants and night life.
Arusha also has its first real coffee house, Africafe, a great location to chill out, people watch and sample some home baking with famous brands of teas and coffees grown on the fertile slopes around Mbeya, Southern Tanzania.
This informative Maasai cultural museum comes complete with mock-ups of home and bush life, which you visit with a real life Maasai warrior. You can then take a 30 minute camel ride towards the Monduli Mountains, and visit a local Maasai village where you’ll get the chance to chat to the local Maasai and learn about their culture.
MT MERU CURIOS & CRAFTS MARKET
There are quite a few markets in Arusha but this one (often referred to as the Maasi Market) has some great souvenirs and some higher-quality items. You will need to practice your expert haggling skills though and be persistent as this market is one of the best in central Arusha.
Just a 1hr 40min direct flight from Arusha, the exotic island of Zanzibar, locally known as Unguja, has amazing beaches and resorts, decent dive spots, acres of spice plantations, the Jozani Forest Reserve, and Stone Town.
Stone Town, the archipelago’s major metropolis, is a maze of narrow streets lined with houses featuring magnificently carved doors studded with brass. There are 51 mosques, 6 Hindu temples, and 2 Christian churches. And though it can rightly be called a city, much of the western part of the larger island is a slumbering paradise where cloves, as well as rice and coconuts, still grow.
We recommend that volunteers book a flight to arrive into Kilimanjaro International Airport (airport code JRO), particularly if this is your first time in Tanzania. You will be picked up at the airport by the Plan My Gap Year team and taken to your accommodation in Arusha which is approximately 1 hour away.
If you would like us to also arrange your return, we will charge a fee of £20.
You will stay at our Volunteer House in Arusha. This is a cosy house located just 5 minutes walk from central Arusha in a quiet neighbourhood.
Rooms are shared, up to 6 people per room. Each volunteer is provided with a mosquito net. The shared bathrooms have warm showers and western toilets. The house has a living area with a TV and comfy sofas to relax in during the evening. There is also a communal kitchen where you can prepare meals and store food in the refrigerator. Please note that power cuts are fairly commonplace in Tanzania although they tend not to last more than a couple of hours.
The house does not have Wi-Fi but there are internet cafes nearby where you can get online for around £1 per hour. Alternatively you can purchase a USB internet dongle for £15 and this will allow you to connect to the internet at all times via your laptop. A weekly laundry service available for £3 per person, or you can choose to hand wash your clothes. We have a cook who will prepare your meals and a cleaner who will maintain the house. There is also a night guard employed for extra security.
A member of our local team will regularly visit the house to ensure everything runs smoothly. There is a great atmosphere at the house and you will meet some wonderful people to share your experience with.
Volunteers receive breakfast and dinner at the Volunteer House, which are freshly prepared on-site by our cook. Meals are a mixture of Tanzanian and western cuisine. You should budget around £2 per day for lunch if you plan to eat local meals or £4 to £5 for western food.
Generally, we have a two-week rotating menu, which offers a varied choice of meals. For breakfast, you will receive cereal, or fruit salad, or boiled eggs, or a Spanish omelette, or pancakes.
For your evening meal you may have pasta, lentils and chapatti, burgers (beef and veggie), or banana and potato stew. We will always have a vegetarian option available and can cater for the majority of dietary requirements.
There are western supermarkets in Arusha where you can purchase food and store it at the house if you’d like to prepare your own lunch/meals.
*Please inform us in your application if you have any dietary requirements.