Thursday, 15 January 2009

Marathon For TB Alert

TB Alert conquers France in aid of Zimbabwe
Kirsten Scott

On the 22nd of November 2008, three of us braved the Beaujolais marathon in aid of the TB Alert project at Murambinda Hospital in Zimbabwe. Having been born and bred there, I have a strong interest in continuing to be involved in the health care system and have managed to visit Murambinda twice over the last three years. Our core team was comprised of an ophthalmologist (John) a vet (Hannah) and a medical student (myself) but we could not have managed without our four person support team (consisting of parents and significant others) who drove us around uncomplainingly and ensured that we had adequate amounts of food on board at all times.

Murambinda hospital is a rural mission hospital in Zimbabwe that serves a population of approximately 300,000. Despite the current crisis, it has continued to deliver effective care to the local population, so much so that people from towns over 100km away are willing to walk there to receive treatment. Since TB Alert became involved, the TB program has gathered strength with accurate data collection and decentralisation of services forming a focus for both local and visiting staff.

The marathon was part of an entire weekend of festivities to welcome the latest batch of Beaujolais nouveau into the world. The event started off well with sunshine, fancy dress and a good pre-marathon spread of coffee, wine, fruit juice and cake provided by volunteers from Fleurie. The self styled “Team Tuberculosis” ran in shirts with ‘Hôpital de Murambinda’ on the back which meant that there were regular shouts of “c’est un hôpital! alors! c’est un hôpital qui court le marathon aujourd’hui” [it is a hospital! a hospital running the marathon!]. John’s TB Alert shirt came with extra wings and he managed to complete the marathon in less than three hours. Hannah and I battled breathlessness and fatigue (not to mention snow and steep hills!) to heroically enlighten passing French men and women on the vagaries of TB in Africa (thereby finishing considerably later). Our increasing local fame culminated in an interview on French TV at the post marathon lunch the next day and we have now been offered free places in next year’s marathon. TB Alert may live to conquer the French yet again!

With the support of incredibly generous friends and family we managed to raise £4,765.80 for the district TB program in Murambinda. Further donations may be given at

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