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Bwindi Community Hospital Newsletter

October 8, 2012 East Africa Bush Tails



Bwindi Nursing School is here!!
We are excited to report that we have begun to construct the Bwindi School of Nurses Training. The ground breaking ceremony took place on September 4 th, and was officiated by the Bishop of Kinkiizi diocese who is also the Chairman Board of Gove rnors, Bwindi Community Hospital; District officials, including the Resident District Commissioner and other dignitaries.

Platinum Engineering Limited is undertaking this first phase of building construction to be completed by August 2013 to allow for the first students intake in November of the same year.

Bwindi School of Nursing will be affiliated to Uganda Christian University and graduates will receive diplomas of UCU. Students will have a unique opportunity of blended e-learning from Texas Women’s University to acquire advanced training and accreditation equivalent to that of a Registered Nurse.

Through this program, Bwindi Community Hospital hopes to create a reliable and sustainable base of highly qualified health professionals capable of improving health in local communities and the region.

The initial class size in this three year program will be 24 students and will increase annually, until a total student population of 72 has been attained. It is intended that in future, the school will double its capacity and expand to 144 students.

We are very grateful to Stephen Wolf and James Jameson for their great support and to all other people involved in this new chapter.

Malnutrition, a problem in the Bwindi area


Malnutrition is the most important risk factor for illness and death globally. It contributes to more than half of deaths in children worldwide. Our nutrition unit in the Pediatric ward continues to be busy with cases of malnutrition, admitting an average of 10 children per month.

Among the many children we admit is an orphaned Mutwa named Aboss. At one year old, Aboss came to Bwindi severely malnourished and suffered from malaria. He weighed seven kilograms. While under the care of his grandmother, Lydia, we immediately started him on HEM (nutrient enriched) porridge while treating his malaria.

As his treatment progressed, he was slowly able to play with other c hildren in the ward, something he hated to do when he first arrived. After six weeks, he gained over 10 kilograms, completely recovered, and was discharged.

Aboss lost his mother when he was 8 months old due to HIV and his father’s whereabouts are still unknown.
While Aboss and other children on the ward are gaining weight and trying to play, nurses are teaching and demonstrating to mothers how to prepare good meals for their children. And by the time they leave the hospital, they are fully equipped with the skills to keep their families healthy. This enables us to prevent occurrences and re-occurrences of malnutrition.
Community mental health services launched
Statistics show that close to 20% (6.8 million) of the 34 million people in Uganda have some forms of mental illness, ranging from anxiety and depression to severe madness.

We are happy to report that beginning this September, Bwindi community Hospital will be offering specialist mental health care in collaboration with Kabale Regional Referral Hospital. Our clients will have an opportunity to be reviewed by the only psychiatrist in the region, Dr. Kabega Jacinta. The clinic will initially run every last Thursday of the month and then clients will be followed up by our community health team that will include a psychiatric clinical officer and a medical social worker.

We hope that this kind of community based mental health rehabilitation will not only bring the much needed service closer to the people but also demystify mental health and associated stigma.

It is essential that staff employed to handle mental health issues are adequately trained and selected to meet the patients’ complex needs, and therefore may take us sometime before BCH can build capacity to offer this service more regularly. We are glad that this old dream is finally becoming a reality and welcome additional support to be able to run a daily service.

We are very grateful to Kabale regional referral hospital, especially Dr. Jacinta Kabega and her team, for partnering with us on this initiative to improve health in this area.
A doctor’s interesting tale
Seeing patients as a doctor in the clinic or those admitted on the ward daily, you are struck by how often you have to find an answer or solution for every patient’s problem.

On a windy Thursday afternoon, while rounding the ward, I found a 60 year old man called Paddy -(not real names) in deep agonizing pain; his right leg was darkening progressively and was beginning to develop a foul smell! He had been a heavy smoker for the last 40 years and had a similar episode on his left leg one year ago which was amputated (cut off).

As I looked at him closely, he had dry gangrene (death of his leg tissues) most likely from smoking (a condition called Buerger’s Disease). Yet, with this pungent smell and oozing discharge, I said, “Gosh, this is turning into wet gangrene (where there is invasion of the tissues by dangerous species of bacteria), that will infect the whole body in a matter of hours and kill the patient.”

With no facilities to ascertain the integrity of blood vessels (venography/arteriography) to make an accurate diagnosis, this uncertainty was, compounded by the patient’s inability to afford a referral to the next hospital. The decision was made to give him ‘˜strong’ antibiotics and rush him to the operating room to amputate his remaining leg in order to save his life.

Our goal was to slice through normal muscle tissue, just centimeters above the gangrene, and break two bones. Yet, there was no chain saw, normally used for amputations, available.

Instead, we improvised by using a drill and removed the infected limb, washed him with saline, and then sealed his wound. When he woke up the next morning after recovering from the anesthesia, he could not believe, that the tremendous pain he’d withstood had gone. He is currently recovering in the ward, adapting to the life with no legs, but in much less pain.

It is with your generous support that we are able to maintain such a team of good doctors, nurses, anesthetists who work even with the meager resources to make a difference in people’s lives.

For you wishing to give us support:Every single pound, shilling, euro or dollar donated goes directly to running this Hospital. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.