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January 2014 Report - Latest news of the work of Acheru
Acheru is becoming very busy again after a lull over Christmas. Things can be quieter then with the staff in CoRSU, who deal with our surgical referrals, taking a break. This means we have fewer inpatients, and for CoRSU and for us it lets most of the staff take a holiday at the same time, which is probably more practical, when working with relatively small medical teams, than having individuals taking breaks at different times. It seems like Acheru is going to be very full. I’m also collecting some statistics on patient numbers and conditions seen and hope I can soon have a review of all that was done last year.
As you know, we’ve been thinking a lot about community work and the potential to do more. This could be through locating children needing surgery, or arranging home treatment. There is also education and prevention and we now want to look particularly at quality of life for disabled children and their families in an environment where the stigma of disability can severely affect the whole family.
I’ve been looking at information from the Acheru Community Based Rehabilitation programme. Acheru operates in a number of districts – Mukono, Wakiso, Kayunge, Iganga, Jinja, Mityana, Rakai, Oyam, Gulu, among other districts in Uganda, with some patients coming from outside the country, eg Southern Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Congo. The most intensive work is done in Mukono, Kayunge and Wakiso districts, and Oyam district in the north. Of 721 children treated in 2013, 505 were from these districts. 174 of these patients were followed up and recruited with home visits through the CBR programme. We hope all Acheru children can be helped to some extent, but around 150 per year have a radical improvement in their quality of life after surgery, opening up new opportunities for them.
Priority core areas of intervention have been identified for the CBR programme: Health and Rehabilitation, Educational Support, Care and Protection from mistreatment, Negative attitudes, and the potential to improve income. We don’t want to lose our focus with Acheru, where much of what we do seems to be unique in Uganda, but in working with children we want to look beyond the disability and its treatment to quality of life and how this can be enhanced.
I should make clear that the Christian ethos of the work remains and is kept under review. It’s central to the work, and I commend the staff for dealing with this in a way which maintains an environment in which all patients and relatives feel comfortable, including our high proportion of Moslem patients.
Brian Dorman

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