SHAPE visit to Busamga, Eastern Uganda – November 2016

Report on a visit to Busamaga by SHAPE chair Dr Neil Fletcher to review and advise on the functioning of the health centre, particularly to check
that SHAPE funds were being used most appropriately.

On 17th November I arrived at Entebbe airport, Kampala where I was picked up by driver David and driven to Busamaga in time for an evening meal – a 6 hour drive via Mbale.I spent the next day at Busamaga Health Centre II.

Various Busamaga officials (headmaster Patrick, St Peter’s vicar Rev Christopher see photo) showed me around the new facility which was formally opened in December 2015. I was very impressed with the cleanliness and the high standard of workmanship.

I met the staff (see photo) who talked about their roles and responsibilities. The in-charge Gerald Wadikini (employed by the Sironko District) discussed the day to day running of the Health Centre.

Health Centre Staff

Midwife Grace (see photo) told me about the recent deliveries she had carried out. We talked about gaps in stock and ways in which SHAPE could support the ongoing running of the Health Centre.

We talked about Ugandan systems and processes and the supply of medicines to Busamaga. Grace explained how there was a lack of ‘Mama kits’ needed to deliver babies safely. These kits contain things such as sterile razors to cut the umbilical cord, sterile gloves, soap and plastic sheeting etc. This problem we addressed later in my visit and SHAPE continues to assist with these disposables.

Midwife Grace

Nursing assistant Sophie (see photo) showed me the Register of patients that had been seen in the preceding 3 months. I checked the medical equipment that SHAPE had provided -which was all in good working order (Glucometer, stethoscope, blood pressure device – to name but a few). I had a look around the dispensary and the current stock of medicines / pharmaceuticals.

Nursing Assistant Sophie
Nursing Assistant Sophie

On Saturday 19th I travelled 18km East to visit Buteza Health Centre, a Ugandan category III health centre in the foothills of Mount Elgon. This is a purely Government facility (rather than a Private Not For Profit charitably-run facility like Busamaga). I met the staff and had a look at the laboratory in particular – so that we could make plans for a laboratory in Busamaga HC .

It was a useful insight into what a Ugandan primary care laboratory looks like and the diagnostic tests on offer.

Next day, back in Busamaga, I attended the Sunday morning worship service at St Peter’s Anglican church. Reverend Christopher insisted that I speak to the congregation for 10 minutes and spread the “Gospel of mosquito nets” as part of a campaign to disseminate health education and combat malaria. Long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets are the single most life-saving intervention available for children under 5. They are the main tool that has reduced global childhood malaria deaths from 2 million per annum (2007) to about 450,000 per annum (2017). At the end of the service baby clothes and blankets were given to the needy. (Thank you to the “Knit and natter” club of Cam, Gloucestershire.

Jack Fruit

On Monday 21st we travelled to the Gittoes Pharmaceuticals Ltd in Mbale to re-stock the Busamaga Health Centre with consumables. These are mainly medicines, diagnostic test strips, mosquito nets and “Mama” kits.

Next day we travelled to the Sironko District Medical Office for a meeting with Dr Agnes Bukirwa – the new District Medical Officer. We discussed some operational problems with Busamaga Health Centre that needed to be addressed (e.g. the lack of gas cylinder for the gas fridge for vaccines).

We discussed some strategic objectives – e.g. acquiring formal “accreditation” for Busamaga HC and the possibility of including it in the Financial Year 2017/18 and 18/19 Sironko budgets. Funding from central government is not forthcoming, it seems.

On Wednesday 21st November I departed from Busamaga at 06:00 am for the long journey to Entebbe airport and back to London. A huge thank you to the generous supporters of SHAPE. You enable much needed health care to be provided to about 4,000 patients in Busamaga. The prayers of village elders Perez Bwairisa and Samuel Magona & their steering committee in 1982 have been answered!

Posted in Busamaga.

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