Selian Lutheran Hospital, Arusha, Tanzania


Selian Lutheran Hospital is one of the three reputable hospitals in the Arusha Region, under the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCT) it has served the Arusha community and nearby districts and regions for the last 50 years. It is well known for providing care and service to the local Maasai population of Northern Tanzania.

The main hospital in Ngaramtoni (13km from central Arusha) has a capacity of 120 beds and a bed occupancy averaging from 85% to 90%. The hospital has a Town Clinic and provides management and supervision for 15 medical dispensaries. Selian is currently building a new hospital facility in Arusha to provide a more specialist and higher level of care to the Arusha population including an emergency department and orthopaedic institute.

Selian provides ward service in medicine - male, female and paediatrics, surgery - general, orthopedic and gynecological (incl. fistula repairs), and obstetrics. It also provides services and programmes for outpatients, hospice, HIV/AIDS treatment, ophthalmology, dentistry, midwifery, physio and occupational therapy, laboratory and x-ray. It has a visiting surgeons' programme for plastic surgery and specialist orthopaedic surgery.


Tanzania gained its political independence from the British in December 1961. It is the only political union in Africa following the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964. Its estimated population stands at around 35 million. The country has around 120 tribal groups each with their own culture and vernacular. It is unified by the common language of Kiswahili. English is the country's second language.


Occupational Therapy Advisor

Major duties:

  • Provision of occupational therapy service throughout the hospital.
  • Capacity building of the OT/PT services at the Ngaramtoni Hospital and establishment of therapy services for new Selian Hospital and Orthopaedic Institute.
  • Fieldwork training of occupational therapists from local OT school, and training for general hospital staff in the principles of rehabilitation and care of patients.
  • Establishment community outreach service within the ELCT dispensary and hospital network throughout the Arusha region to identify people with disabilities specifically with orthopaedic and plastic surgery needs.
  • Co-ordination of project funded orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation for children with disabilities through the Orthopaedic Institute.
  • Strengthen network between different service providers providing care for people with disabilities throughout the Arusha region to streamline services provided.

Working hours:

The work day starts with chapel and morning report at 8am, and generally finishes at around 3.30pm when the staff bus leaves. The true working day depends on the number of patients who need to be attended to, unexpected delays or adventures, and other clinics to be attended.


The staff have a reasonable but varying grasp of English and can usually be relied on for basic translation into the national language of kiswahili and sometimes the common language the patients which is kimaasai. Grasping the basics in greetings and some medical terminology is greatly appreciated by the staff and patients.


Arusha is located close to the Kenyan border, it is the third largest urban area in Tanzania. It is located on the slopes of Mount Meru and has a lush feel to it (except at the end of the dry season). Downtown is bustly and hectic but it does not take much to get away from this feel. Arusha is about 1,300m above sea level and enjoys a temperate climate with the cooler months from June to August and the main rainy season from March to May.

It is growing in importance as a business centre encouraging rural/urban migration and is the safari capital of Tanzania, being the gateway to Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire Parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and situated about one hour from Mount Kilimanjaro. Currently the UNICTR (United Nations' International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) is based in Arusha thereby increasing the international feel of the city.

The town's facilities reflect its position as safari capital and home to a large expatriate population (farmers, missionaries, volunteers, safari company employees, NGO workers and UN employees). It has a wide selection of bars and restaurants, food stalls and shops, internet cafes and curio shops there is something to suit all tastes (and budgets).

Arusha is a relatively safe place, however precautions must be taken with regard to personal safety and valuable possessions.


Getting to and from Arusha is easy, either through South Africa (Qantas), Dubai (Emirates) or Europe (KLM). There is a lot of opportunity for travel from Arusha to the local national parks, Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar or local areas through local tour operators.


Selian welcomes volunteers from different medical backgrounds for differing periods of time - check out to see details of opportunities, accommodation, travel and the hospital and its programmes.

This assignment is a two-year assignment developed together with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA); a New Zealand volunteer development agency, in agreement with Selian Hospital they provide travel to and from the assignment, housing, living (and other) allowances, insurance and support in the field - check out

Hospital Website

Hospital contact:

Dr Mark Jacobson
Doctor in Charge
If you would like to make contact, please email and we will pass your message on.

My contact details:

Sarah Wallis
Occupational therapist
If you would like to make contact, please email and we will pass your message on.