Tanzania Rheumatology Initiative

SUMMARY

The Tanzania Rheumatology Intiative, a 501c3 non-profit established to study the burden of arthritis in an agricultural community of 30 million in East Africa.

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Tanzania is an agrarian country of 30 million, sorely lacking in business infrastructure, communications,  roads and medical care.  The relative absence of mechanized industry requires a disproportionate share of manual labor from its workforce, with a consequent toll on musculoskeletal health. The Tanzania Rheumatology Initiative was established as a 501c3 non-profit in 2008, with a stated objective of analyzing the burden of rheumatologic disease (particularly osteoarthritis, myofascial pain and metabolic bone disease) in this rural population over a five year interval.  Working with the Department of Medicine at MUHAS (The Muhambili School of Medicine) in Dar Es Salaam, the initial phase of the initiative will be to study the prevalence of illness throughout the country, utilizing regional medical centers and a cadre of trained, indigenous workers to carry out surveillance studies over two years. The second phase of the initiative is to implement an intervention, stressing the principles of prevention (diet, ergonomics, simple tools) and eventual therapy (medication, injection, surgery) over the ensuing three years. The TRI seeks independant funding for its efforts, which will be coordinated with the UCSF Global Health program - whose ongoing alliance with MUHAS has allowed for faculty and student exchange over the past several years. The American liason for the Tanzania Rheumatology Initiave is Dr. Jonathan Krant, a board-certified rheumatologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts, director of teaching programs in rheumatology at Berkshire Medical Center and CEO of Berkshire Rheumatology Associates in Pittsfield, MA.

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