Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic
“The Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic implements programs affecting millions at the last mile of healthcare in the Lake Tanganyika Basin and is accelerating efforts to build a floating medical and research facility. The ship serves as our platform to improve public health, encourage riparian cooperation and security, and promote environmentally responsible development.” —Amy Lehman, Project Lead, Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic
SUMMARY: The Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic is a visionary, geopolitically savvy health-services initiative that seeks to address the logistical problems of providing healthcare to communities in a massive rural region where large populations are clustered on the lakeshore, but isolated from land-based networks of supplies and expertise. Its “hub & spoke” model for water-based health services, its low-carbon modes of transport, provision for capacity-building and education, its radio communications and data collection network, and its stewardship of the lake’s ecological and economic destiny make it a dimensionally rich regional, and replicable, solution—effortlessly representing Bucky’s adage to “do more with less” in one of the earth’s richest freshwater ecosystems.
PROBLEM SPACE: “Holding nearly a fifth of Earth’s fresh water and over 600 unique species, Lake Tanganyika is one of the world’s great eco-systems and also a major source of industrial minerals, timber, and petroleum. Consequently, the basin is fast emerging as one of the world’s most strategically significant places – and much is at stake. There is potential for a downward spiral into conflict, terrorism, disease, and reckless extractive exploitation, thus leading to increased human misery, insecurity, the destruction of rare habitats, and the devastation of livelihoods. Stability in any society is predicated on meeting certain fundamental human needs, including access to healthcare. Without it, people cannot work, commerce and agriculture cannot thrive, and prospects for long-lasting peace and security erode. Healthcare systems in sub-Saharan Africa typically operate as a tiered system: health centers serve ultra-rural populations, referring more serious cases to regional hospitals. In the basin, this system completely breaks down. Difficult terrain and an absence of reliable roads and cellular signal prevent the majority of the basin’s more than twelve million inhabitants from receiving care, not even the basic skills of healthcare workers at local dispensaries due to lack of a supply chain.
SOLUTION: The Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic drives positive outcomes for the Lake Tanganyika Basin by developing efficient models for water-based healthcare delivery and health systems building, improving supply chains and communications capacity and promoting relevant cross-sector development and regional cooperation through active diplomacy. US headquarters are in Chicago, with a regional office in Kigoma, Tanzania and registration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As a result of our key relationships with local populations, ability to work on the ground, and ingenious small scale approach to overcoming formidable problems, the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic team is now sought after as a key adviser and partner to the variety of stakeholders coming to understand the basin’s importance across health, energy, environment and economic development disciplines. We are now accelerating efforts to establish a floating medical- and broader research-facility on Lake Tanganyika to ensure supply chains of medical goods as well as health care worker training to these currently isolated areas.