News

Two new loans for Kitovu Hospital

Two more loans are helping Kitovu Hospital. The Medicaudit Foundation has given support to the scheme which gives staff loans so helping them and improving loyalty and retention.

Rotary Doctor Bank has given a loan to help build a new ward as shown in the picture

January 2017 – Jim McWhirter’s visit

Those of you who have been reading these reports since 2009 will have noticed that they have changed significantly over time. Early reports were full of the emotional impact of seeing human suffering at first hand and the culture shock of coping with the very limited resources available to help.

Inevitably one becomes accustomed to seeing these things and latterly reports have concentrated on our efforts to make longterm improvements. Although improving the efficiency of hospitals is critical to saving the lives of mothers and babies, it doesn’t make such good reading as details of practical work on the hospital wards.

On this, my 15th visit, I have been deeply disturbed once more.
Uganda is a green and pleasant land thanks to two rainy seasons each year following the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Last year the September rains failed with severe consequences for rural subsistence farmers, the community that most of our patients come from and the bulk of the Ugandan population. There are food shortages, increased prices and many are down to one meal a day in the rural areas. In field after field the maize crop has died as shown in the pictures:

Hopefully the rains will come again this spring and set them on the road to recovery but if they don’t, it will be very serious. It is easy to overlook how vulnerable these poor countries south of the Sahara are to changes in climate and how we cannot take well established historical weather patterns for granted.

On the project front we are seeking to repeat the successful programme we implemented at Kamuli in a much poorer setting in Eastern Uganda. We hope to refurbish the maternity ward at Freda Carr Ngora Hospital (pictured above) and send a Vocational Training Team to boost education at the nurse training school, all with the help of a global grant from Rotary. We are receiving strong support from the Rotary Club of Kampala Central and the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau.

One of the great joys of coming to Uganda is the opportunity to meet the most incredible people. I have previously mentioned the Kamuli anaesthetic officer who works literally 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and Dr Maura Lynch of Kitovu, a nun and surgeon who celebrates 50 years in Africa this year. Both of these are still working in their 70’s. On this trip I met an 80 yr old ophthalmologist who has been 52 yrs in Africa, still works full time and spends two weeks each month travelling all over Uganda taking his surgical skills to remote communities. His name is Keith Waddell of Ruharo hospital and he is photographed with his team on an outreach journey. Between them, these three remarkable people have 151 years of service. I feel I live an incredibly lazy and self indulgent existence!

Author donates £1155

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Ivan Linton of Co Antrim, N Ireland, has very generously donated £1155 being the proceeds from a book he published last year about the area where he lives. We are very grateful for his support.

 

 

 

Jim and Tessa McWhirter were presented with the cheque by Ivan and his wife Florence at an event in Cullybackey hosted by Liz Hoy and Elizabeth Boyd of the Cullybackey Historical Society.

Elizabeth Boyd, Ivan Linton, Tessa McWhirter, Liz Hoy, Jim McWhirter and Florence Linton

Elizabeth Boyd, Ivan Linton, Tessa McWhirter, Liz Hoy, Jim McWhirter and Florence Linton

 

 

July 2016 – Jim McWhirter’s visit

Visit report July 2016

Every visit to Uganda holds surprises, some pleasant, others less so.
The road network has improved dramatically over the past eight years but this is a mixed blessing. On the upside, travel is quicker and more comfortable with less dust and fewer bumps. On the downside, local drivers have a lot to learn about the hazards of high speed travel. IMG_7064When we found ourselves in a major traffic jam following an accident, we took to the side roads (!) to try and get by but unfortunately met others doing the same from the opposite direction! Fortunately my travels were otherwise uneventful apart from paying more for petrol post Brexit.

IMG_7169My first job was to welcome 20 Bristol University medical students and see them on their way to Kitovu and Villa Maria. These hospitals have hosted Bristol students for four years now, providing 50 in total with exceptional learning and unforgettable medial experiences. Next year we hope to extend this programme to Kamuli as well.

One of the main objectives of this visit was to complete the process of setting up the Medicaudit Foundation in Uganda as a fully fledged non-profit organisation. It will partner with Medicaudit Ltd in Uganda and Rotary Doctor Bank in UK and oversee the work of supporting rural hospitals which has been developing so successfully over the past four years. We now support 24 hospitals, 7 clinics and other sites including pharmacies and even a hospital farm!  Your generosity has secured the future of this work which goes from strength to strength.IMG_7119

 

The inaugural meeting was held by the founding members, somewhat informally, over dinner in a cafe in Kampala:

 

A critical element of the Foundation’s work is computer system support and as our network spreads further afield, we have developed ways of providing remote support over the internet to cut down on the need for staff to waste a lot of time travelling. It never ceases to amaze me how we are able to productively and cost effectively use up to the minute technical solutions in a low tech society. But it really does work and our hospitals are constantly improving the care they are able to give patients.
Medicaudit is sponsoring one of its employees, Nicholus Seguya, to undertake further training by doing an MSc in Public Health Informatics at Makerere University, Kampala.

IMG_6525An exciting new project is helping the Rotary Club of Thanet, UK, with their project to improve water supply and sanitation at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital. I visited this incredibly hardworking hospital again and look forward to developments in the coming year

 

imageWhile in the east I visited the Medicaudit project at Ngora. This hospital was a leader in many spheres a long time ago but after a period of decline it is heartwarming to see it recovering. There is huge scope for useful projects here and Medicaudit is closely involved.
Jim McWhirter, July 2016

Bristol medical students arrive in Uganda

 

IMG_6991Bristol University medical school has sent 4th year medical students for SSC study in Uganda each year since 2013. Twenty students and four tutors arrived for a three week stay at Kitovu and Villa Maria hospitals

 

Another volunteer visits Kamuli

Dr Andrea on the Medical Ward
Dr Andrea on the Medical Ward

Dr Andrea Taylor, a volunteer with Rotary Doctor Bank, spent 2 weeks at Kamuli recently using annual leave from her GP partnership in Sevenoaks. Click here to read full details of her visit.

Rotary trains staff at Kamuli again

Practising_newborn_life_support-1024x768Rotary District 1090 has sent a Vocational Training Team (VTT) to Kamuli Mission Hospital for the fifth time. They have trained midwives, nurses and doctors in essential life-saving skills for mothers and babies. Death rates for mothers and babies have fallen significantly since their first visit in 2014.

Kumi gets an orthopaedic drill

 

Kumi hospital is the second one to receive an orthopaedic drill donated by Rotary Doctor Bank. Most hospitals are only have hand drills which make operations a lot longer and therefore less safe for the patient. The drill has been developed by Arbutus Medical in Vancouver, Canada. It is a non-profit venture in collaboration with the University.

January 2016 – Jim McWhirter

Visit to Uganda January 2016

I’m not superstitious but I did have my laptop stolen on my 13th trip to Uganda, just concluded. The interesting aspect of the story is that when thieves broke into my colleague, Rogers’, home when we were upcountry visiting hospitals, they stole an ipad I had passed on to him a couple of years ago. Although we were a six hour drive away, he was able to track the movement of the ipad on the internet which enabled the police to make an arrest and recover it.

Africa is a fascinating mix of old and new. The heartwarming part of the story is the way the family rallied round. Brothers came round to stay with his wife and children, assisted with clearing up the mess and running around informing the police and providing the information to catch the thieves. This enabled Rogers and me to continue our work for another 24 hours, keeping in touch by phone.

IMG_6542-1024x768The extra time the family support gave us allowed me to attend meetings in Soroti to help move a water project forward for the Regional Referral Hospital. It serves a very large, poor rural area. At any one time there are about 3,500 people on the site and they have to do everything with a water supply which is usually only available for 4 hours each day. Unimaginable! The picture shows part of the 9 am daily outpatient queue and there were a further 100 patients waiting for the surgeon.

While in the area we had visited two of the hospitals using our Medicaudit management system.
I was at Kumi 18 months ago helping to install Medicaudit. They have worked very hard and have doubled hospital income without increasing patient fees. Similar results are achieved at many of our hospitals allowing them to increase expenditure on staff and equipment and so improve patient care with the result of saving of more lives.
Ngora has only recently started with Medicaudit but is making great progress from a very low base.
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Nearby there are some fascinating cave paintings which are over 3,500 years old.

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We have made great progress over the past two years and are now supporting 20 mission hospitals, 2 private hospitals, 7 mission health clinics, 3 private health clinics, a mission wholesale pharmacy and a mission hospital farm! We have one hospital in Kenya and strong interest from Malawi. We are working on a plan for further steady development.

IMG_6428-1024x768On this trip I visited three more of our hospitals. The highlight was a return to Kamuli where my Ugandan career began. The hospital’s only anaesthetist, Sebastian, works day and night, 365 days a year. He began work in 1968 and started giving anaesthetics in 1972 and is still the single most important person in the hospital at the age of 70. It is impossible to even guess the number of lives he has saved. It is seeing dedication like this that makes it impossible to to walk away from helping.
It was therefore a special pleasure and privilege for me to present him with a Rotary award for outstanding service (a Paul Harris Fellowship) on behalf of Rotary Doctor Bank GB&I. He is pictured with his wife.

As always, your continued support is what keeps it all going and I hope you can share with me a sense of pride in what we have achieved and excitement about what is yet to come.
Jim McWhirter, January 2016

July 2015 – Jim McWhirter

This was my twelfth visit since beginning work here for Rotary Doctor Bank in 2009.
IMG_5754It 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.

IMG_0309 - from GP 28Sep14On 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 wh
ich had p
reviously 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.

IMG_5727The 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 stude
nt 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.

Kamuli-VTT-leaving-Heathrow-17April15Of 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”.

IMG_5625This 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.

IMG_5620Rotary 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