Roche Health Center: Treating Patients and Winning Design Awards

By: Marion Atkinson, University of Cincinnati Student

The completion of the outpatient clinic building of Roche Health Center in April 2011 marked a huge accomplishment for Village Life. This dream was turned into reality through the collaborative efforts of Village Life; the Shirati Health, Education and Development Foundation; the University of Cincinnati; and the Roche Village Community–as well as support from individual donors and our esteemed sponsors, including Haire-Bohmer Wealth Management LLP, and UC Health Primary Care Network.  Thousands of villagers in the Rorya district of Tanzania now have access to healthcare without having to walk four to six hours.

Village Life’s Tanzanian Project Coordinator, Rosemary Peters commented during the October 2011 Brigade: “The construction impressed everybody. First, by the nature of the building which they construct at Roche. Secondly, the people of Roche, currently they are able to get service from their village and they are not traveling far away to get their health service…That is a huge thing which Village Life did for our citizens.”

From April –December 2011,  Roche Health Center has conducted 492 outpatient visits, delivered 14 babies, provided antenatal care for 76 women, and immunized 148 children.

Currently the health center is open two days per week, and is staffed by Dr. Esther Kawira and her nurse practitioner Dorothy Kawira, who travel a 45-minute drive from their operations at Sota Clinic to provide care at Roche. Daniel Paul, the nurse assistant at Roche Heath Center, resides on site to provide limited emergency care on other days. Village Life is currently working with UC’s College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning (DAAP) to design and build housing for the medical and nursing staff at Roche Health Center, allowing the expansion of the hours of operation.

In addition to the incredible service provided to the people of Tanzania by this project, Roche Health Center has also been recognized nationally for the ingenuity of the design and planning.

 The National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) named UC’s School of Architecture and Interior Design as one of its 2011 Prize winners for its work on the Roche Health Center. The school was awarded $7,500 along with the honor of receiving this prize. According to the NCARB website, “The jury praised the project for being replicable in many parts of the world needing quality building design and construction.”

 The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) awarded Assistant Professor of UC’s School of Architecture and Interior Design Michael Zaretsky with their 2011-2012 Collaborative Practice Award in Global Collaborative Practices. This award honors the best practices in school-based community outreach programs. The juror comments were as follows:

“This is an exemplary university-led, applied-research and engagement-driven project is rooted in the community – for the community. This balanced effort involved a sustained faculty commitment with practitioners, students, and community leaders and constituents to address the underserved needs of the community. The final outcome of their effort not only solves one of those needs, but also results in a compelling architectural project. The lasting impact of this project is its integrative framework that will continue to serve as model for future collaborations and the direct transfer of knowledge to members of the community.”

The Roche Health Center was also a winner of the ARCHIVE Second Responder Award. ARCHIVE is an online exhibition started by ACSA that focuses on architecture schools’ contributions to their communities. This competition is interested in ideas from architecture students and faculty who have researched specific or general conditions of humanitarian recovery issues and created thoughtful ideas that could help people and communities prevent, mitigate, or recover from accidents or disasters. Their article cites that, “The Tanzanian District Government is considering this project as a potential model for future rural healthcare in Tanzania.”

Congratulations to everyone who has contributed in so many ways to this project!  Read about the construction process and clinic updates at


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