Nov 2012 – Jim McWhirter

My eighth visit to Uganda has been exciting, busy and successful. I was based in Kampala with Dr Rogers as last time. The main purpose of this trip was to lay secure foundations for a major building refurbishment programme at Kamuli which is planned to take place next year with the help of a Rotary Grant which will boost the funds that many of you have so generously donated.

But life is never straightforward! Just before my visit the roof of the Maternity Ward at Kamuli was declared unsafe with termite damage to the timbers, missing tiles and water damage to the ceiling. Clearly this required immediate action. The Hospital had already constituted a building committee in preparation for the Grant application. Working with them over the past fortnight we have had the situation assessed by an expert, had plans drawn up, met with potential contractors and finally authorised the Hospital Board to engage contractors and get the necessary work done immediately at a cost of £25,000.

I hope you will feel real satisfaction that your donations through Rotary Doctor Bank have enabled this essential work on what is the busiest ward in the Hospital.

Less dramatically, but no less importantly, the work of supporting hospitals with their administrative computer systems, described in my last report, continues. I visited six of the eleven hospitals we are now supporting. It was very encouraging to hear reports of improved management being reflected in improved income and reduction of debt in these hospitals that constantly struggle to make ends meet.

The website continues to attract high quality volunteers who are supported in their service by Rotary Doctor Bank. Recent visits include a Spanish physician, a British physician and a GP. Next year we are planning for extended visits by a British surgeon, a New Zealand GP Obstetrician and an Australian paediatrician.  

As I reflect on the past four years I notice how my reports have evolved. At first they were very long and full of shock and raw emotion. Now they are relatively brief and factual. The daily tragedies that blight the life of poor rural Ugandans have not changed significantly, so what has?

Thanks to the support of Rotary and the kindness and generosity of so many of you, I am no longer a relatively helpless spectator. Using the funds you have donated and with the invaluable help of my Ugandan colleague, Dr Rogers Kabuye, we are now able to do something to make a long-term difference.

It gives me great pleasure to sincerely thank you all.

Below is the architect’s drawing of the new roof on the maternity ward. My next report will include pictures of the new roof and news of the on-going efforts to improve the rest of the hospital.