seems a very short time since we started Acheru, the unit is now
established, working to capacity, and with a growing reputation.
Our thoughts are increasingly turning to the north, and what we
can do for disabled children there. We now have a
patient/relative hostel at Acheru, which can accommodate another
12 children, and its our hope that most of these will be
from the north. We want to reduce our surgical waiting list
there, and also try to extend the area covered by the work.
|The most recent
clinic run to the north illustrates the problems we face there.
The Acheru team went first to Minakulu, returning patients who
had completed their treatment and looking at all the waiting
children to assess and prioritise new cases. They then travelled
on to Gulu to stay overnight before going out to Awach, north
east of Gulu for another clinic. There was very heavy rain which
made travel difficult both for our staff, and for people
trying to reach the clinic. Its probable some didnt
get there. More children were assessed and, in combination with
Minakulu, ten were prioritised for surgery. However, when it
came time to go back to Acheru, again via Minakulu to pick up
patients, only six turned up. The selected cases were serious,
so that means four children who could have been helped will
continue to suffer, with what consequences we can only imagine.
This happens too often; the parents may be influenced by older
relatives afraid of new methods, or witch doctors
may have exerted pressure. Or it may simply have been the fear
of travelling so far to an unknown situation. Whatever the
reasons, we want to do something about it.
|We have been
blessed with continuing generous support for Acheru, and the
best way we can use donors money is to treat more
children. We are having serious discussions about this, and had
at one time thought of building our own clinic in the north.
However, its a changing situation there so we are
reluctant to think of permanent structures. We have good
relations with a number of existing health centres there, where
we run our clinics, so we are now looking at the possibility of
placing a team of Acheru workers in the north to work from those
centres. They could try to ensure that children dont miss
out on treatment at Acheru, but could also provide outpatient
treatment enabling us to treat many more. If suitable outpatient
treatment was available in the north, then children being
treated in Acheru could potentially return home much earlier,
freeing up bed space. We are looking at this with other agencies
involved in work there in the hope that together we can provide
a more effective service, and I hope to have more news on this
picture of a little girl with osteomyelitis illustrates one of
the most common conditions we have to deal with. She is from the
north, imagine what she was suffering and what might have
happened if we hadnt found her.
want to raise money for Africare, and are planning a special
evening in Belfast City Hall on 15th September, with varied
music and a good meal. Further details will be put on our
website when available.
|Thank you to
all who support our work, I hope you are encouraged by all that