Bibi steps in 2013 Calendar Tanzania

Twaweza has published a calendar for 2013 focusing on health. The idea behind this is inspired by our recent Ni Sisi campaign - you and I are the ones that can make a difference. Health is a core Twaweza priority and through this calendar we are trying to prompt thought and action on two specific issues - the availability of essential medicines (at regulated prices) and the motivation of health workers. These are often quite complex issues but we see a clear route for citizens to have impact that we have illustrated through cartoons. The stories in the calendar are not meant to be instructions on how citizens should act, but instead are meant to inspire ideas. They present a set of scenarios which many people will be familiar with and show how just one person or a few people, thinking differently, can turn these around. The stories all feature a Bibi (which means grandmother in Swahili), who provides the pivot point in all of these situations. And in each case the calendar asks 'Na wewe, je?' (And what about you?).

In the first story medicines are not available at the local dispensary. The people are angry, thinking that they have been stolen. Bibi steps in and suggests that they try amongst themselves to sort it out. She asks a young man to call the local health official to check if the medicines have actually been sent or not. The mood changes. A young lady suggests that she can call someone, and a teacher volunteers to check on the situation when he travels to the area for a meeting.

In the second story Bibi is shown trying to flag down a local doctor. He is in a rush and reacts angrily to her, clearly indicating that he is in no mood to be stopped. But to his surprise, instead of asking for help, Bibi thanks the doctor wholeheartedly for curing her granddaughter. ‘If there were only 10 doctors like you in the world…’ The doctor feels appreciated, his mood changes, almost as if Bibi reminded him about what matters. He then goes off to the clinic, and greets patients with a refreshing level of caring and responsiveness.

The third story again takes the issue of medicine. In this case the government in Tanzania is part of a program to subsidise the most effective malaria medication on the market (according to World Health Organization guidelines). Unfortunately it is often not sold at the regulated price. We see a familiar scene of a young father being denied the medicine even though he has the correct money. The young man refuses to give in and sits outside the pharmacy in protest. Bibi sees what is happening and gives the pharmacist a long hard look. Other people are also walking buy seeing what is happening. The pharmacist cannot hold out and sells the young man the medicine at the right price.

In the final story there is a long line of people waiting for the doctor at the clinic. They are understandably angry because he is late. As he arrives trying to explain that his bicycle broke there is an air of intolerance. Again Bibi steps in and kindly but firmly tells the doctor that her grandson will pick him up on his bicycle so that he can get to work on time. Again this causes a switch in the atmosphere with others offering the various modes of transportation they have available, including a donkey!

And hidden in the stories are some familiar faces...

Read more: 2013



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