Uganda Healthcare Expedition Part III & Other Musings

It feels like the last couple of weeks have been a little ‘strange’ to me, since coming back to Leeds. There have been days where I was so driven to do things, but there have also been days where I haven’t been quite as motivated. For a while, it felt like time was going so slowly and I was feeling rather blah about things…and it’s only been two weeks!

The first weekend I spent since coming back to Leeds may have been a productive one. This is despite having many movies running on at home, probably too many to count. I was able to sit down and literally brain storm ideas on the whiteboard, for the cervical cancer screening programme I am organising in Bwindi-the objectives, statistics, equipment, screening and treatment options, current infrastructure, collaborators, funding organisations, questions to the hospital, the list is endless.

Despite taking a solid weekend, it felt like for the first time, I was able to create a vision in my head of what the programme should encompass. I have already sourced the equipment in Uganda instead of in the UK as I originally planned, and am looking into funding options for these. I have also been in touch with the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Manchester University and important charities who have expertise in this field of medicine. I’ll admit some responses have been slower or less helpful than others, but I do have some direction of focus. If there’s anything that I’ve learnt, it’s that you should keep going until they tell you no.  I’ll give you an example…

In my previous blog post on the expedition, I mentioned that I was in contact with a gynaecology registrar at the hospital. Unfortunately responses from him thinned out, to the point that I directly made contact with the Royal College itself for advice and about a potential staff training course for the healthcare workers. It was useful to know that this is a pilot, in which they require more information from the hospital. At least I knew this now and in my mind, this still wasn’t a no.

The beginning of last week was probably not one of the best ways to start the week off…my uncle passed away.  I received a flood of text messages from my family asking me to ring them back, and this was unusual for them. Though we weren’t very close, I was still upset. He was my uncle, and every time we made trips to Sri Lanka, he was always there.  I took a couple of days off work though weirdly enough, it felt like I wasn’t present most of the week. However we’re managing to carry on. I found it weird how every time my family asked if I was ok, I actually felt worse. I don’t know if that’s normal, maybe I just wanted some space for a bit.

This week almost feels like things are a little bit normal again. I’ve been trying to get on with things-marathon training (which I recommenced today), chasing jobs for the expedition, reading and establishing a routine again. Yes sometimes I like normal. Normal is trying to keep yourself busy and occupied with something, wanting to wake up in the morning to do it. Its important, it helps you get through the not so nice times, and it can help you feel a little less blah about yourself.

Uganda Healthcare Expedition Part II

Since my last blog post, I have been in touch with various medical store companies who sell colposcopes and cryotherapy units. This was harder than I thought, as the stores I was recommended to try were either only liscenced to sell their products for UK use only, or just didn’t have the equipment. I did get in touch with one company which does look promising. They sell equipment for use abroad and I informed them of my plans. Fingers crossed I expect to hear from them early next week. Hopefully with some quotations in the purse, I will organise charitable fundraising for the equipment through:

-gynaecology clinics at the hospital here

-medical students (while they get to learn about women’s global health issues).

I have also been in regular correspondence with a gynaecology registrar at the hospital, who has put together a staff training course, as a way to improve the care of patients in low resource settings. If this gets the approval from the authorities, I will relay this course to Bwindi for their consideration. If the hospital agree with our proposal, we aim to get our two routes of support as mentioned above on board, in addition to matched funding in running the course.

A few days ago I got in touch with my first ever supervisor, the man who basically gave me my first job as a medic…I call him Dr Z. I have asked him for his help and guidance in organising a prevalence study on type 2 diabetes and hypertension in the Bwindi community. It appears that the disease pattern there is changing in the direction of non communicable diseases, so by identifying associated factors, we can enhance their community health programme.

Until next time folks…