The beginning of 2015 has kicked off in great fashion at Suubi Centre. A team of 7 medical students from Monash University, Australia have linked up with Suubi medical team to conduct free medical testing and treatment for under-privileged people in Lubanda Village and surrounding communities. Although the provision of free services differs from the small fee that patients are usually asked to pay at Suubi Clinic (to enable the clinic to remain financially viable and avoid the hand out mentality) we also realise the difficulty people in the rural areas have to go through to access quality health services, and that some people simply do not have any money to pay even the smallest amount. With this in mind, the 7 Team:MED students had been busy preparing and fundraising for this free initiative for a number of months prior to their arrival. The money they were able to raise purchased all the testing reagents and medication that were used during their ten day stay at Suubi. An enormous thank you to the entire team and to everyone who supported them and donated to make this all possible!
Having worked so hard in the lead up to their trip, the team were excited to finally arrive in Uganda on January 2nd. Before heading to Suubi, they toured one of the countries largest hospitals, Mulago, in the capital city of Kampala. This was certainly an eye opener for the students as it gave them a first hand view of the difficult conditions faced by medical practitioners, even in city based hospitals in Uganda.
(L to R) Team:MED students Erin, Masad, Annie, Chloe, Clare, Fraser and Madhu were happy to arrive Mulago hospital in Kampala.
The team visited many different departments of Mulago hospital and were able to interact with staff who told them of the day to day challenges they face.
But is was the ten days they would spend working side by side with the Suubi medical team and interacting with the rural community that the students were really looking forward to. Learning from each other is one of the many benefits of the entire initiative and something we wish to expand on as the annual Team:MED visits to Suubi continues in the future.
Arriving at Suubi, after hours of travel from the city, was a welcome sight. Unpacking all the medical supplies and luggage from the Land Rover was quite a big job.
Suubi ladies were on hand to preform a very special welcome for the group.
After a good nights sleep, the following day saw the big job of unpacking all the supplies, formally meeting the Suubi medical team, setting up and preparing for the testing that was to begin on Monday the 4th of January. The students and Suubi staff also took the preparation day as an opportunity to discuss procedures and how everything would run so that the whole exercise could be the most successful.
Medical supplies that Team:MED had bought from Australia and those purchased in Uganda for the exercise were unpacked and sorted.
Suubi medic, Elias, explained to the Team:MED students about some of the difference they would be confronted with and discussed how things would proceed once patients began to arrive the following day.
Monday morning saw patients starting to arrive early. Though-out the day 60 patients turned up and patiently waited to be seen. As the two medical teams got to know each other and worked out the best way to deal with so many people, only 30 could be treated on the first day. The remaining patients gladly returned over the following days; 37 were seen on 2nd day and a further 47 on day three of testing at Suubi Clinic.
The large number of patients were happy to be waiting in the shade for their turn to see the medical team.
Patients were first consulted by Suubi clinician, Kayiira Robert and a member of Team:MED (Annie at this time). Speaking luganda directly to the patients and then discussing in english with the Australian medical students was the procedure that worked best for everyone.
Patients were then directed to the Suubi laboratory where vital statistics and the appropriate testing was carried out by one of the Suubi medical staff and a Team:MED member. (Masad and Alad at this time.)
With the large number of patients to be seen, blood tests were also taken in other areas of the clinic. Chloe draws blood from one of the many patients seen during the first three days of testing at Suubi Clinic.
Once patients were diagnosed they went to the dispensing area where medication was distributed by a member from both medical teams (Suubi student nurse, Nanyunja Deborah and Madhu at this time.)
Although every patient who was seen at the clinic was extremely grateful for the opportunity to see the medical team, one man in particular had a very touching story. Godfrey had been sick for months but had never managed to be able to raise enough money to get treatment. When he heard about the free testing and treatment at Suubi he realised that this was the only opportunity he would have to get the treatment he had been missing for so long. He thanked everyone enormously and said he had no right words he could use to thank Suubi Centre for doing such a wonderful job for unprivileged people, like him, in the community.
After months of sickness, Godfrey was enormously grateful for the treatment he received at Suubi during this exercise.
But it was not only the people of Lubanda Village who had access to the testing at Suubi Clinic. Outreach services were also held in other communities including Kiwangala and Kyasonko. At Kiwangala the mobilisation was done by COTFONE, an organisation that works with local people in this particular area. COTFONE was happy to be part of this Suubi Centre's exercise and appreciated the services offered to its members. The Director COTFONE, Kayinga Yisito, pledged to always encourage people from his community to visit Suubi Community Health Centre for quality medical services in the future.
Setting up for the testing at Kiwangala proved to be another challenge.
Patients waited patiently to be seen by the medical team at Kiwangala.
Masad and Robert may not look like they are in a clinic, but the 47 people of Kiwangala that were tested and treated were enormously grateful that an outreach session had been conducted in their area.
So as you can see the Suubi motto of "Suubi Centre-Creating Hope in the Community", has really been in action - Seeing healthy, smiling faces certainly creates hope in some one. A huge thank you to Team:MED and Suubi medical staff for all for their wonderful work and commitment.
We look forward to the last few days of this 10 days exercise and are excited that it will culminate with a dental workshop on 14th. This will be inauguration of a dental clinic at Suubi Community Health Centre; another very exciting step forward!