We are excited to see the collaboration between Suubi Community Health Clinic and medical students from Monash University, in Melbourne, continuing to strengthen each and every year. Six TeamMED students, Meg, Catherine, Lauren, Emma, Ben and Lauren have just completed a very successful ten day stay stint working side by side with the Suubi medical staff.
This years team arrived in Masaka town on January 3rd and began their Ugandan medical experience by visiting Malago; one of the bigger hospitals in the area and a facility that Suubi Clinic refers more acutely ill patients to when required. This was definitely an eye opener for the Australian medical students and highlighted the difficult conditions and lack of facilities that their counterparts, in a metropolitan hospital in Uganda, have to cope with on a day to day basis. With the Malago tour completed, they then headed to Elite Backpacker to spend the night. This also gave them time to be briefed on what to expect in the much more rural setting at Suubi Clinic before heading out the village.
The team appreciated the chance to absorb what that had seen at Malago in the relaxed atmosphere at Elite Backpacker. This also gave Ssemwogerere David the opportunity to hold an orientation session, about what to expect during their time at Suubi Clinic, before they set off the following morning.
As with past TeamMED groups, this years team had also done a fabulous job of fundraising prior to leaving Australia. Each year the money raised by TeamMED initially goes towards purchasing all the testing reagents and medications, required during their ten day stay. This means that patients seen throughout their time at the clinic need only be charged the nominal fee of 2000 Ugandan shilling (approx. 80c) This is done predominately to avoid creating a hand out mentality that Suubi and HUG are so conscious of avoiding in everything we undertake. Remaining funds raised are then used throughout the year to help cover ongoing cost associated with running the clinic. Our enormous thanks goes to the team for all their fundraising efforts; in particular for the connection they have made with Boxhill Rotary Club, who have donated a significant amount towards the past two TeamMed groups.
From past years experience of working together, a very effective format has now been established for the TeamMED and Suubi Clinic collaboration; the first day is used for the to medical teams to get to know one another and to set up. Testing and treatment is then carried out from Suubi Clinic for three days, two outreach sessions in Nakateete and Kyssonko villages and a dental workshop held at Suubi Secondary & Vocational College.
One of the first jobs needed to be completed when the team arrived at Suubi Clinic on January 4th was for all the supplies that had been purchased and donated to be accounted for and sorted out before the patients began to arrive on the following day.
Jan 5th and 6th was allocated for patients to be seen at Suubi Clinic. With the large number that attended, the overflow were happy to wait in the shade of the tent provided at the front of the clinic.
With very different diseases and conditions to deal with, the Aussie medical students listened intently to Elias (Suubi Laboratory technician) as he explained the testing procedures.
Patients were seen by Suubi clinician, Robert and one of the students before then being sent for further testing, diagnosis and finally treatment. Each of the students had an opportunity to be involved in all steps of the process. With so many patients to be seen, a second area in the Suubi Clinic was set up for blood to be taken. Ben made the best of the alternative facilities that were available.
Lauren and Catherine also managed well in the alternative laboratory area to analyse blood, urine and stool samples.
Having completed the first two days of testing and treating at Suubi the team took a well deserved day off. As it happened, a very good friend of David's, Hussain, was due to meet his girlfriends family for the very first time. This is a very formal occasion in Uganda, in the lead up to getting married, so the TeamMED crew were very lucky to be involved.
Everyone fitted in perfectly by dressing in traditional gomezi and kansils for this very special occasion.
They also had the opportunity to try out the local food - Meg, Catherine and Lauren looked happy to be trying out the matooke.
Gifts for the brides family included pineapples, watermelon and woven baskets that team helped to deliver.
Having enjoyed the festivities, the team was soon back to work with outreach sessions held at Nakateete and Kyssonko, a dental workshop at SSVC and a final day of testing back at Suubi clinic.
The team took equipment from Suubi Clinic to set up for the outreach at Nakateete Child Development Centre.
Lauren and Alad were soon busy withdrawing blood from a little girl who had come with her mother to be treated.
Although they were not in a medical facility, Catherine had the equipment from Suubi Clinic to use for diagnosis.
The outreach at Kyssonko was carried out in a local church. Once again equipment was taken and this time set up on the benches usually used for pews.
While another section in the church became and area for blood withdrawal, which Emma made the most of.
The dental workshop that was carried out at Suubi Secondary & Vocational College was a huge hit with children of all ages. Lauren showed this group of children the right way to brush their teeth.
All of the children were excited to be given a tooth brush and toothpaste to take home so they can continue to look after their teeth.
January 14th wrapped up the teams time at Suubi with the final testing and treatment carried out back at Suubi Clinic. All in all the entire exercise was a huge success with 221 patients being seen and treated throughout the ten day exercise. The Aussie medical students have seen conditions and diseases they simply will never be exposed to back at home in Australia. They are sure to be better doctors in the future for having spent time in such a different environment. Equally the Suubi medical team will have learnt many things from the Aussie team along the way and great friendships will have been forged. We are sure that the partnership between Suubi Clinic and TeamMED can only continue to prosper in the future. We look forward to working with another wonderful group of Monash students in 2018.
Suubi medical staff and TeamMED achieved great things as they worked side by side during this years time together. L-R Lauren, Meg, Lauren, Deborah, Emma, Emanuel, Ben, Robert, Catherine. Alad and Elias in front.
A huge thank you to both TeamMed 2017 and Suubi medical staff, for the great work done over the last 10 days. Webale nnyo, nnyo, nnyo.