Selian Hospice

About Selian Lutheran Hospice

Selian Lutheran Hospice Program in Arusha, Tanzania began in 1999 as a home hospice program of Selian Lutheran Hospital in the midst of the AIDS pandemic. Dr. Kristopher Hartwig, Dr. Mark Jacobson, community health nurse Paulina Natema, and chaplain Augustino Kimani got the program started with only 3 patients. At that time, the AIDS pandemic was raging. Anti-retroviral drugs were not available. Global Health Ministries provided the first grant to the hospice program in those early days. The program grew quickly from three patients to many hundreds of patients. Even though no narcotics or AIDS drugs were available in the early years, Selian visits provided comfort to the patients. 

A majority of Selian patients are HIV positive and many of those also have TB. But even though most people with HIV/AIDS are now surviving longer, poor nutrition and lack of access to health care make AIDS much more deadly in Tanzania than in the US. In addition, cancer and diseases such as emphysema are on the rise in Tanzania. Hospice care is still desperately needed.  Selian Hospice provides medications, basic food supplies, and psycho-social support to patients. Over the years, they have become experts in palliative care, and are the only clinical training center for palliative care in Tanzania. 

The Selian model is very cost-effective. Very few professional staff supervise many well-trained volunteers, who provided most of the day-to-day care. Day Clinics are held monthly at rotating sites, in order to reach more patients. At Day Care Clinics, 30 to 50 patients gather for the day. They receive medical examinations, medications, pastoral care and social support. The orphan and vulnerable children’s program meets in tandem with the Day Care Clinics. These children either have HIV or they have lost one or both parents. Here, children receive something to eat, medications, and the chance to have some fun with other kids in the same situation.

Selian Hospice now serves around 2,000 patients, down from 5,000 at their peak in 2015 when they were receiving substantial support from USAID. Budget cuts at USAID and a lack of funding generally for programs in Africa have meant that finding sustainable funding sources has been a challenge. Since USAID cut funding in 2016, they have had to cut staff, much of the food staples for the poorest families, and the $20 a month stipend that volunteers were getting to defray their expenses.

About the Selian Advocacy Council
We became connected to Selian Lutheran Hospice through a partnership between The Denver Hospice and Selian Hospice, which lasted from 2001 to 2019, providing significant financial and educational support.  We are committed to continuing to raise funds for the Hospice program, in order to ensure that patients and families in the greater Arusha area will continue to receive this vital, holistic care.

You can help by making a one-time or recurring donation.

Click on Donate Now, Click on Designation (dropdown menu) and select "Tanzania: Selian Hospice".