Before committing to join the mission I asked myself -“should I go?”, – “am I capable?” and “will I be up to the challenge once I am confronted with the reality of the situation?” Having made the decision to go there was no turning back.
On departure day, with our bags packed full of medical equipment and supplies, our team left for Uganda or more precisely the village of Bwindi, which is situated at the entry of the Impenetrable Forest National Park.
We were a team of eight persons.
- Forat Sadry, Specialist in radiology and president of Africomed
- Georges Kohut, Specialist in orthopaedic and trauma surgery
- Rémy Boscacci, Specialist in infectious diseases and internal medicine,
- Kathrin Flueckiger, Anaesthetist
- Samuel Grenier, Radiology Technologist
- Geraldine Bégué, Nurse Anaesthetist
- Joanne Foschini, Physiotherapist
- Me, Kastriota Zumberi (“Nota”), Scrub Nurse
Once we arrived in Bwindi, the first two days were devoted to pre-operation consultations for almost 100 people. I attended the consultations of Doctors Kohut and Boscacci and with the information I acquired I was able to prepare the equipment in the evenings for the four or five operations planned for each of the following days.
The lack of orderly storage arrangements and the relatively little orthopaedic equipment available did not help, it was often necessary for me to be inventive. Finally, in spite of a relatively complex exercise and with only two years practical experience, I was able to prepare the required sets of orthopaedic operating equipment
Later, many different problems arose: the sterility of the wraps for the operating instrument sets was doubtful, the humidity as well as certain sterilisation products corroded the instruments, making them fragile and easy to break. The sterilising ovens could not be used for the electric cauterising cables because the heat would melt the insulation. In addition the tables could not be moved and the operating lights were not powerful enough.
In spite of all the problems we were able to satisfactorily implant external and internal fixators, decontaminate and debride (remove dead tissue) in cases of osteomyelitis (infected bone), which unfortunately occurs in Bwindi very frequently.
Without any doubt the local personnel were always very hospitable and of sunny disposition. I was especially lucky to meet Allan (operating theatre instrumentalist) and Eunith (chief of the sterilisation group), both of them competent and always seeking to learn more. There were many others with the same disposition and approach, including Gideon, Paul, Anicha and Barnabas to name just a few. We got to know one another during walks in the village and the surrounding countryside.
The objective of these missions is education and training, to enable them. in our absence, to provide the best possible care for their patients. The outcome of the mission was very positive for me in terms of both my professional experience and human relations.
I sincerely hope that I was able to help to the maximum of my capabilities, for this was my first humanitarian mission and I was keen to do well.
For more information on the Association Africomed and the hospital in Bwindi please refer to the following links.
Once again I would like to thank la Clinique Générale for their logistic and material support for this mission