Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Center for Global Health

Rural Aid Organization (RAO) - Tanzania


Rural Aid Organization (RAO) is a non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) developed with the primary goal of elevating the quality of life in rural East Africa.  RAO seeks to achieve this outcome through the advancement of medical, educational and social services.

As an NGO, RAO draws from its various counterparts to provide quality surgical/medical care, critical social interventions, technical trainings/education and community services.

Services are rendered through these main areas:

RAO hospital was founded with the purpose of rendering the best quality surgical treatment to all people in the Mara Region.  RAO hospital did not have the personnel to meet the demands during that time; however, over time RAO hospital was blessed to have medical volunteers from all over the world help alleviate some of the stress of the high medical demands. As time progressed, the rapidly growing HIV/Aids epidemic became a prominent issue in the region. The trials of lost loved ones and orphaned relatives became a heartrending situation. RAO hospital sought out ways to suppress the negative impact of the pandemic; Consequently, Rural Aid Organization was patented and officially registered as a non-governmental organization in 2003. In 2000, a group of women from within the community took the lead role of identifying the most vulnerable children (MVC) and assisted in providing food, clothing and shelter for them.  What started out as a means of caring for relatives soon became a community project. This group of social workers became known as RAO Women's group (RAOWG)

RAO hospital is a 50 bed facility, opened on October 17th, 1996.  The hospital is located in Shirati village at the root of Lake Victoria.  The hospital is registered under the Private Hospital Regulation Act with a registration number 201001. Since the inception, the hospital has provided excellent adult and pediatric medical services, major and minor surgical procedures and comprehensive Reproductive Health clinics. 20,634 patients have been seen and treated at RAO.  The most frequently performed procedures are Gynecological, Thoracic and general abdominal surgeries.

Disease Spectrum

Malaria, TB, pregnancy, HTN, DM, parasites, HIV/ AIDS, breast CA, PID, fibroids, hernia, AUB, diarrhea, prostate CA,  malnutrition, splenomegaly, sickle cell disease, motorbike injuries.

Clinical Responsibilities

Recommended Global Health Curriculum

For all international rotations, please review our online Global Health Curriculum page.


General surgery, OBGYN, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatrics

Length and Timing of Rotation

Four to six weeks.


Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Karin Ulstrup

First, Do No Harm: A Qualitative Research Documentary from Tim Holland on Vimeo.

The Section of Global Health in the Division of Hospital Medicine is launching this program and supports interested faculty. Please feel free to email Dr. Ashti Doobay-Persaud or Sue Leib for available dates.