Officially established in 1976 to extend the health services provided by Heri Adventist Hospital, Sumbawanga SDA Dispensary began as subunit of Heri Adventist Hospital. By that time Heri Adventist Hospital had become a referral hospital, and all the dispensary’s staff came from the hospital.1
Foundation of the Institution
The founders of the dispensary included Dr. Ishmaili Mazunda, who assumed charge of it; Dr Eliford Chobaliko, a laboratory technician; and their wives, Tabitha Bina and Agness Chobaliko, respectively, who served as nurses. Heri Hospital directly administered the dispensary and supplied most of the equipment and drugs. At this time, both institutions were in one administrative unit called Tanzania General Field.2
In 1980 Heri Mission Hospital funded the dispensary’s first building and the next year the institution moved from its rented quarters. By the middle of the decade the dispensary had gained a highly favorable reputation in the community. So many people sought out its services that one employee commented that “we were telling some of patients to go for service to the government hospital when we would get tired in the evening.” Since it did not have any beds, the dispensary could only treat outpatients.
Brief Historical Information of the Institution
Initially, no Adventists lived in the Rukwa region. Then in the middle of 1966 the Tanzania Union sent Elison Bulenga to sell books in the Sumbawanga District. He sold copies of The Great Controversy to two brothers, Philipo Chambula and Alowizi Chambula who worked as fishermen on Lake Rukwa.3 After Bulenga taught them about Sabbath, they returned home and witnessed to their relatives, leading to a baptism of about six people in 1967 at Kalalasi Village. As a result of Bulenga’s contacts, the Tanzania Union through Heri Adventist Hospital decided to employ medical services as one of the tools to reach the people of the area. Some Heri Adventist Hospital staff members moved there to provide laboratory, counseling, and clinical services. Sumbawanga Dispensary has gone through several challenges, including rapid turnovers of leadership and decreasing income as a result of competition from other new dispensaries.
Historical Role of the Institution
Although Sumbawanga SDA Dispensary was among the most popular dispensaries in Sumbawanga, it could not admit inpatients. Instead, it had to refer them to a regional government hospital. Still, contact with it resulted in many baptisms. As one of the methods employed to evangelize the area, the dispensary has helped the church to grow in numbers of local churches and membership. Currently,4 the municipality has 18 local churches. Besides medical services, the dispensary distributes church publications, making it a powerful tool to reach people.
List of Leaders
Ishmail Mazunda (1977-1978); Jangson Milambi (1978-1980); Ennock Mwakalindile (1981- 1986); Dr. Livingstone (1987-1990); Dr. Magafu (1990- 1993); Dr. Ellamu (1994-2011); Samwel Mwangi (2012-2020).
Jackson Ruhuha, interview by the author at his home, Kantalamba Area- Sumbawanga Municipal Council, September 6, 2019.↩
Agnes Chobaliko, interview by author at Sumbawanga SDA Dispensary, August 9, 2019.↩
Cleodia Masoya, interview by author at his home, Msanzi area, Kallambo District- Rukwa Region in Tanzania, August 9, 2019.↩
Jackson Ruhuha, interview by author at his home, Kantalamba Area-Sumbawanga Municipal, August 6, 2019.↩