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Formative Evaluation of Rehabilitative Post-surgical Care for Children in Tanzania: “They Arrive with Sorrows, but they Leave Happily”



Tanzanian children with surgically correctable disabilities face challenges in accessing healthcare and cultural and societal stigma and prejudice. This paper provides insight into the staff perceptions from one rehabilitation center in Tanzania, The Plaster House, pertaining to disability, treatment, and change broadly for children with disabilities who receive treatments.


This was a qualitative content analysis. As part of a program evaluation, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 staff members of The Plaster House, gaining perceptions about change for children with disabilities receiving treatments. The Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Matrix was utilized to organize the data into categories and form results.


Themes were identified and organized within the following categories in the CBR Matrix: health, rehabilitation, education, social roles, and empowerment. Each was associated with the child or family caregiver experience at The Plaster House.


Findings provided rare insight from Tanzanian staff on the valuable social, emotional, and physical impacts of specialized treatment for children with disabilities and their parents. Transformational changes are possible for children with disabilities and their families despite poverty and limited access to services.

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We would like to thank the staff who conducted the interviews and participated in the evaluation, particularly Rose Francis and Tara Rick. This work would not have been possible without the support of team members from St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, USA, and The Plaster House, Arusha, Tanzania. Both teams worked tirelessly to ensure this project was a success. Additionally, the project was made possible by an Academic Excellence Grant from the GHR Foundation.

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Correspondence to Lisa R. Kiesel.

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Ethical approval was waived by the IRB of St. Catherine University in view of the exemption of program evaluation related data collection.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Kiesel, L.R., Biggs, J., Hartwig, K. et al. Formative Evaluation of Rehabilitative Post-surgical Care for Children in Tanzania: “They Arrive with Sorrows, but they Leave Happily”. Glob Soc Welf (2021).

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  • Tanzania
  • Community-Based Rehabilitation
  • Pediatric rehabilitation
  • Children with disabilities
  • Evaluation