Wednesday, September 9, 2009

URT travelling contingent visits Morogoro

Caz, Lizzy, Tom and I have left 'the little ones' and made the leap into the next phase of our URT adventure, with our first port of call at Sokoine University of Aggriculture.

On Sunday we caught the first ferry from Stone Town and waved goodbye to our fasting island home. After a choppy crossing and a few pale faces we were relieved to get back on solid Dar es Salaam turf. Almost immediately it felt like we had crossed into another country (Zanzibar only united with Tanganyika in 1964). We caught a taxi to the out of town Ubungo Bus Station where we learnt an important lesson in purchasing bus tickets - ask an African what they paid before parting with cash!! Never the less we were on our way to Morogoro.

After 3 hours the stunning Ulugru Mountains announced our approach to the city. Thankfully Mr Onesmo from the university met us at the busy bus terminal and had arranged us a smart, but affordable place to stay. We dropped off our mamouth rucksacks before heading to the campus where we met with two fellowship students over dinner, Clement from Tanzania and Angie from the US, who are both studying epidemiology of infectious disease for the next year.

The next day we met with Angie, Clement and Onesmo at Sokoine and were intoduced to Professor Kimera and Dr Esron to present our project and demonstrate the Google phone technology that we have been using in Zanzibar. Both were very well received and we had an interesting discussion about the proposed role of the technology in public health and the early detection of disease outbreaks in the future, for which funding is currently being sought. Prof Kimera explained the big problem of retrieving information from remote areas of the country, which means outbreaks of infectious disease are often dealt with in isolation. We also learnt about the idea that human and animal health overlap in many areas and are now being addressed as 'One Health'. It is hoped that mobile technology will improve the collection of data and so better inform governments of disease status in their county and allow them to react appropriately.

We were introduced to more members of the faculty as Dr Esron gave us a tour of the campus and veterinary hospital, which drew a surprising number of parallels with our college in London.

A deliciouse dinner and a taste of Tanzania's own national drink 'konyagi' before retiring home rounded off a fantastic few days. We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone at Sokoine for their hospitality and kindness.

We are now on the 7 hour bus journey to Arusha, where we look forward to meeting with the team at VetAid.


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