April 2013 Report - Work now started in northern Uganda
At the beginning of April, our new unit opened in northern Uganda. We had planned as much as we could; there were still outstanding issues and potential problems, but the need was there, we had been given the funding, and we decided on a leap of faith to start a work which will now be carefully evaluated.
We had hoped to have an inpatient unit. There are two clinics close together at Minakulu, south of Gulu. One, where we had previously run clinics every two months, offered to provide rooms for outpatient treatment. The other, a government centre, offered us staff accommodation and a small building which could serve as an inpatient unit. The final step was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with both of them, but at this point the offer of rooms for outpatient work was withdrawn. The District Health Officer was still very keen to have Acheru there so the Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the government centre, and staff recruitment started. Three appointments were made (physiotherapist, orthopaedic officer, nurse) to work alongside the Community Based Rehabilitation worker we already had in the north. While they worked for a time at Acheru to get used to how we did things, Sam took care of preparing the buildings, and I sent out the equipment. The building which we had originally intended as an inpatient unit has to serve now for outpatient work, so at present there is no provision for inpatients. It’s a good start, but means most patients needing surgery will have to travel to Acheru.
There has now been another development; Sam has travelled around the area promoting the work and making connections, and a surgeon at a rural hospital 25km away has offered to do some surgery. This will be a big help, meaning fewer children having to make the long journey south.
Acheru has been doing more work with amputees, with good results. We’ve a separate ‘appliance’ fund, and they are having artificial limbs produced at modest cost. The last one I saw details of was for a girl who had an amputation above the knee and the artificial leg, which she quickly got used to, cost £85, of which her family contributed £25. A very cost effective way of making her mobile and enabling her to lead a fuller life.
We are now monitoring all the work, looking at numbers treated and quality of outcome to ensure first of all that Acheru is functioning as effectively as possible, and then to think about possible areas of improvement.
Brian Dorman

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