International (Jim McWhirter)
Jim McWhirter.UK Help for Hospitals in Uganda
Help for Hospitals in Uganda visit report July 2015 from Jim McWhirter
This was my twelfth visit since beginning work here for Rotary Doctor Bank in 2009. It was the first opportunity to see for myself the completed major hospital refurbishment project at Kamuli. Everyone who has donated should feel a great sense of pride at having contributed to an effort which is transforming the physical fabric of this hospital which serves one of the poorer areas of rural Uganda. On my first there were only two buildings less than 10 years old and most were over 50 years old. Now the new buildings outnumber the old ones and the whole place has a completely different feel.
A Rotary Global Grant funded the refurbishment and extension of the maternity ward and the refurbishment and major extension of a derelict building which had previously been the operating theatre and is now used as a ward for VVF surgery. This work is carried out by the Uganda Childbirth Injuries Fund which makes an almost immeasurable difference by improving the quality of life for women injured in childbirth. It is hoped that the improved facilities will make possible a significant increase in this work.
The work at Kamuli is being carried forward by Dr Philip Unwin of Henley and his niece Dr Alice Unwin. Alice first went there five years ago as a medical student on an elective. They have made a massive contribution by building a guesthouse for visiting volunteers and accommodation for the staff. >All these initiatives and improvements have led to a reduction in staff turnover which is one of the major problems in these rural hospitals.
Of course it is the quality of care within the buildings this is actually the most important thing. I am delighted to say that Rotary in the Thames Valley is addressing this. Part of the Global Grant project was a team of midwives and doctors who visited twice to teach essential life-saving skills. Following on from this the Rotary District (1090) has undertaken to fund twice yearly visits to reinforce and continue this work for mothers and babies. This is also supported by Rotary Doctor Bank and the Unwins' charity "Kamuli Friends”.
This is the third year that Bristol University has sent fourth year medical students to Uganda. This year nine students went to Kitovu and Villa Maria hospitals. They were very happy when they heard that they had passed the exams they had sat just before leaving.
On a more serious note, they all had a profound and fascinating experience which will contribute significantly to their personal and professional development.
I was able to review the work of Medicaudit which is making good progress helping rural mission hospitals improve their efficiency and the quality of care they give patients. We are now working with 18 hospitals and 7 health centres, most of whom are seeing significant improvements in their income as a result. The project is on target to become self-sustaining by 2018.
Rotary Doctor Bank has been very active this year sending out many volunteers. I visited Buluba, the hospital which will have received four RDB volunteer doctors this year, providing virtually continuous cover for the whole year. For the first time RDB sent out a radiographer volunteer who had a very successful time at Villa Maria installing donated equipment, instructing local staff and dramatically improving the quality of x-ray films.
As always, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of you for giving such great support to this project over the last six years.
July 2015 Jim McWhirter Nettlebed, UK 01491 641609, 07989 650027
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