When I visited World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva just before Christmas, I noted their two sculptures in the grounds. Here is one of them depicting a scene I recall from many years ago – a boy leading his blind grandfather in the way a guide dog in the west would help a blind person find the way.
I recall a group of elderly people arriving in Kisiizi in exactly this manner in the early 1990’s to attend an “eye camp” where a visiting ophthalmologist assessed them and selected those for surgery. Many had cataracts amenable to surgical removal. In those days there were no artificial lenses available so the practice was to then issue the patients with very thick glasses. I recall the amazing scene of the line of patients sitting post-operatively and the nurse going along the line removing their bandages. Of course, they could not see anything without a lens present. They had been through the surgery and had some discomfort in their eyes and now they still couldn’t see anything! But then the nurse came down the line again and put a pair of thick lens glasses on each patient. The old man on the end of the line blinked a few times, then started looking around excitedly as for the first time for months he could see again… then he started to sing and jump up and dance and the rest of the line wondered what was happening but as they received their own glasses they all joined in!
Many had resigned themselves to never seeing again and now they had a new lease of life. It resonated from the pages of the new Testament where the blind healed leapt up and down with joy. Nowadays we have cheap artificial lenses made in India so all cataract patients are given a new lens and don’t need the glasses.
We enjoy welcoming visitors from various parts of the world and recently four lads from Australia arrived for a month’s elective here.
Training is a key part of the role of Kisiizi. As well as students in our Primary School and School of Nursing, we currently train six interns (in obstetrics & gynaecology; general surgery and paediatrics) as well as the Ugandan and overseas medical students who come on attachments.
Our surgical team are VERY happy as, thanks to the generosity of Kisiizi Partners, our new diathermy machine has safely arrived.
This equipment is used to stop bleeding during surgical procedures and is especially useful in urological operations such as prostatectomy. It can significantly reduce intra-operative blood loss.
Our previous old equipment had been patched up but was at times unreliable so we are very happy with this Christmas present!
On Saturday 28th December the Prime Minister landed in a helicopter on our Primary School playing fields. He had come at the invitation of the hospital and the Banyakigezi group. These are professionals and business people from our local region and they visited Kisiizi to launch a new focus on tourism here and in the area.
Kisiizi was featured in the Banyakigezi Convention Magazine – click to see reports
The painting below now hangs in our staff room. It was painted by Andy Hollis from Macclesfield and depicts the Kisiizi waterfall with a Ross’ turaco flying across. It symbolises the change in Kisiizi from a place of despair to a place of hope.
The Prime Minister unveiled an artist’s impression of a monument remembering the rather sad history of the falls where long ago girls who became pregnant out of wedlock would be thrown over the falls to their deaths by their families. However, the monument also shows the transition from a place of killing to a place of healing, from despair to hope and from death to life.
The day proved very encouraging and we hope will lead to much good fruit in the future.
We are determined to avoid damaging the natural beauty of the falls but aim to enhance safe access for a wider group of visitors and potentially to generate some income to benefit the work of the hospital which has always operated as a not-for-profit non-governmental institution.
The event was subsequently featured in the national newspaper New Vision.
And as the Prime Minister flew off towards the horizon, all agreed it had proved a very positive day…
This year’s party was a huge success and much enjoyed by the hundreds of Staff and their families who gathered at the primary school hall. A hot meal was provided, an impressive achievement for so many, and then the programme had clearly been well rehearsed.
Dr Henry, one of our Medical Officers, had compiled a Christmas Presentation combining songs, drama and humour with the Christmas story. In addition there were other songs, stand up comedy and, on a more serious note, thanks to two of our long-serving porters who are retiring, one after 16 and one after 25 years. The Medical Superintendent gave a presentation of some highlights from the year and on the theme “Prince of Peace”.
We enjoyed some energetic rukiga dancing and then staff received bonus envelopes and all went home happy…
We are delighted to have appointed Agness Katwesigye as the first “Patient Safety Nurse” in the country. We have created this new post as a development of the traditional Infection Control Nurse.
The Executive Committee of the Kisiizi Hospital Community Health Insurance Scheme met today with some members of our hospital management committee. The scheme has thankfully broken even for the financial year 2012 – 2013. The membership is around 34,000 people and must be one of the cheapest schemes in the world.
We have started to saw the felled trees on the site for our new Mental Health Unit to create valuable timber. It is remarkable how straight the timber is cut by hand, a strenuous task.
The timber is then moved on our old lorry to our carpentry workshop for storage.
The light in our Maternity theatre, used for Caesarian sections, has been a persistent problems so recently we have strengthened the roof to support a new theatre light set up which hopefully will give our surgeons excellent visibility in future.
The treatment room built on the rear of the surgical ward area we are refurbishing has been roofed and plastered and the terrazo tile floor is to be installed soon so hopefully we will be able to start properly utilising the ward area.
We hope to be able to continue the refurbishment process in the other end of the surgical ward if we can find further support from friends.
Kisiizi Partners have sponsored the Mothers’ Waiting Home and progress continues…
The tv screen in our Out-Patient queue area is now regularly used for a mix of Health Promotion video made in Kisiizi and some Christian music videos. We hope to make more Rukiga videos and use them for health promotion here and in the community.
This weekend we have enjoyed a visit from a team from Mukono for our Mission. Patients and attendants, Staff, Visitors, Student nurses and members of the community together with pupils from our Primary School all participated in a mixture of singing, dramas, films seminars and talks around the theme from Isaiah 55: Come to me all who are thirsty… seek the Lord while he may be found.
The launch of the new Uganda:UK Health Alliance took place in Kampala on Tuesday15th October and was attended by senior members of the Uganda Ministry of Health and Lord Nigel Crisp of the House of Lords. He had run the NHS for six years and then produced “The Crisp Report” on UK development aid programmes. He inaugurated a Zambia:UK Health Alliance a few years ago and this has proved very effective in reducing duplication and improving co-ordination of programmes.
So we were pleased that Kisiizi was given a very high profile on the evening and that we had opportunities for networking with senior policy makers at the Ministry of Health. We have invited a number of Ministers and the Permanent Secretary [PS] to visit Kisiizi as we feel that if they do they will be impressed with all that is going on and may give us more support in seconding key personnel and in budget funding.
One unexpected finding is that the PS had been one of my medical students years ago!
All these interactions that raise the profile of Kisiizi are valuable as one of our challenges is to recruit key staff to come to what they may consider to be a remote location, with a different language and, to those from Kampala, a cold climate!
So we were also encouraged by very positive feedback at the National Intern Committee and then to get a call from the Chairman of the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council asking for more details of our Community Health Insurance Scheme to discuss with members of parliament next week.
We were delighted to hear of the great success of the launch of Jamie’s Fund – do read the reports and look at the photos including the intrepid abseiling down a church tower!
Then we were so pleased to welcome Ewan and Mo Wilkinson once again to Kisiizi. We had a very helpful time discussing the details of the new Mental Health Unit, pegging it out on the site, and getting views from patient groups.
A recent visit by a Mental Health Uganda team said of our current service: “The building is BAD…….. but what happens in the building is VERY good” so we were happy as the new build will sort out the fabric but what really matters is the quality of care and the compassion with which the patients are treated.
We are grateful to Jamie’s Fund for the donation of a vehicle to use in our community mental health outreach work.
see also Psychiatry Department information