Photographs of Tanzania's President John Pombe Magufuli visiting his wife in a state hospital have been trending on social media.

The images released by Tanzania's State House shows Magufuli standing beside the First Lady at the Muhimbili National Hospital in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

A week after taking over from former president Jakaya Kikwete, who stepped down after two terms in office last year, Magufuli sacked Muhimbili Hospital's acting managing director, Hussein L. Kidanto, after discovering poor conditions at the healthcare facility.

During a surprise visit, Magufuli found patients sleeping on the floor, and found scanning and diagnostic machines were not working.

'Humble' president lauded

While it is not known why Janeth Magufuli — also known as Mama Janeth — was at the hospital's Sewahaji ward, the images have caused quite a stir in the region, where leaders often seek treatment in private hospitals or overseas. Presidents of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ethiopia and Zambia are known for seeking medical treatment overseas, while ordinary citizens make do with underfunded and understaffed hospital facilities at home. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe often flies to the Middle East or Asia by private jet for "intensive treatment".

Social media users across East Africa noted the president's apparent trust in the country's public medical services. "The humble president visited his wife at the local Hospital in Dar es Salaam just admitted with the ordinary people. Rumour is the first lady refused to be taken to high cost. Like her husband, she too is a very simple lady," Zambian resident Mwaba Mutale commented on Facebook. "I can swear If it were any other African leader, their wife would be either in London or Paris by now."

While the First Lady was quoted as saying the hospital had improved and that she had "also received good care from the doctors and nurses", Jeff Oyugi from neighbouring Kenya, said: "This is the epitome of humility [and] absolute trust in local infrastructure. Kudos Pombe [Magufuli]."

Dainty Mitch, also from Kenya, shared the photo, saying: "Humility Stoops to Serve. Commendable."

Nicknamed the "Bulldozer", Magufuli has won international praise for his fight to stem corruption and government waste including payroll fraud.

John Magufuli visits public hospital
President John Magufuli was photographed meeting other patients at the Muhimbili Hospital in Dar es Salaam after visiting his wife Tanzania State House