This Mission was rather special, as we were a team of just two people, Philippe Besson and I. The mission was strongly orientated towards radiology. Our objective was to resolve the problems of the rather sophisticated radiology equipment which had not been able to be used at its full capacity for several months, due to an internal fault. Fortunately during this period the machine had still been able to generate X-rays which could be used for fluoroscopy work.
Philippe spent his time repairing the equipment and installing a new keyboard which had pre-programmed keys to regulate the X-ray doses. Our key radiology man “on the spot” is Robert the head nurse. He was to be instructed in the use of the new installation Philippe needed to liaise closely with Samuel. Samuel was in Fribourg and thankfully they were able to communicate using WhatsApp (when the internet was working).
An attempt to run the automatic film developing machine failed because the heater was defective. A problem which has to be resolved because the manual development of X-ray films is strewn with pitfalls and causes variations in the quality of the images.
Whilst Philippe was working on the electronics, I did my bit by giving training courses to final-year nurses. I also reviewed all of our current projects and especially that of the extension to the operating theatre block; this required numerous discussions and on-site visits.
The monthly grant of $ 500, which we had stopped due to lack of follow-up by the hospital, has been restarted and is now routed to the poor through the payment of the laboratory and radiological examinations that they could otherwise not afford. Children and diabetics, amongst others, are now assured of a regular check-up and the hospital has promised to send us situation reports on the 7th of every month.
In preparation for the orthopaedic mission in March 2017, I was able to reassure myself of the capability of the on-site team which had been reinforced by the arrival of additional anaesthetist nurses. Paul has developed the case-load by his perseverance in recruiting orthopaedic cases ,a job which he does with an exceptional professional conscience. In addition to his other responsibilities he makes ongoing requests for operational finance from the Watsi Group.
The hope of developing bacteriology in the laboratory is at a standstill and the project has to be reviewed upon our return. We also discovered that the monitors in the operating room were showing signs of coming to the end of their lives.
Finally, the future of our “sponsored” medical personnel:
Julius, the gynaecologist, works 15 days a month in Gulu, a state hospital in the North of the country, he describes it as being in a state of disrepair, without equipment, without medicines and marked by corruption at all levels, even medical! His project to continue screening for cervical cancer in Bwindi is threatened by a lack of equipment, the possible repossession of his borrowed cryotherapy machine, the cost of analyses in Kampala (biopsy, cytology) and the inability of prospective patients to pay for their treatment.
Gideon, who spent a month in Fribourg – thanks to Kosta – is working 15 days a month in Bwindi and 15 days a month at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala, where his family lives. In this state hospital, the largest in the country, he has to work with limited means and with equipment provided by NGO’s!!!! He has not lost hope of developing urology in Bwindi, but unfortunately he lacks the means for the treatment of prostate disorders, cancerous or not, other than by prostatectomy which is very invasive surgery.
Lucy, the nurse whom we sponsored for her three years of nursing school, graduated with honours and the highest notes in all of Uganda. We are very thrilled and very proud of her achievement! We committed to continuing our investment in her for the additional education she needs to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
There is still a lot more that needs to be done to enable the hospital to achieve its ambitions. Our primary goal remains staff training and help for patients.