Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Improving the Infrastructures at our Pilot Health Centers – Official Handover Ceremonies

We had two milestone events at both Namalemba and at Namugalwe… we are officially handing over health center equipment and the computer and networking equipment from the Year 1 Global grant. Equipment includes beds, delivery beds, maternity examination beds, sterilizers, delivery and caesarian delivery kits, exam screens, blood pressure machines, glucometers, and more. In addition 2 – 4 computers, network switches, cabling and cabinets, wireless access points, laptops and tablet computers along with 4 Tb hard drives to store medical information that health center workers and community members can access.  It is a GREAT day… the fruition of our 3 years of work to improve Maternal and Child Healthcare in Uganda… starting at these two health centers today…. And to the other two health centers in Kampala area. 

This day is a day of celebration none of us will forget…

We started in Namalemba… the center was abuzz as Dr’s Owen Montgomery and MidWife Maggie from Drexel and Dr’s Marilyn Mendoza and Ryan Smith from University of CA Irvine Children’s Hospital Orange County along with Dr’s Mike Kagawa and Flavia and Dorcas Makerere University arrive to see the center and meet with the community members that support this Health Center… a day they will not forget either.

After a tour of the center, we realize as a Health Center II we have a capable and dedicated partner to demonstrate that our work here is sustainable and that this center, the most remote of the four we are working with in Iganga District will become a center of healthcare learning and information. Our Rotary Foundation is breaking ground.

We assemble around the equipment with representative of the Health Center and with members from the sponsoring Rotary Clubs, Kampala North (Host Club) and Blue Bell PA, USA (International Club) along with doctors (Ob-Gyn and Pediatric) and midwife faculty from Drexel University and Makerere University. There is a warm outpouring or gratitude and expressions of how these donations will improve Maternal and Child Health in the area.

We also hand over a Mama and NeoNatalie to the Namalemba staff, who had taken a three day break from their HC duties and travelled 80 km to attend HBB, HBB Plus and HMS training at Namugalwe…

It was so impressive to see our donated equipment, the installation of computers and networking equipment hear how appreciative everyone was for the Rotarians in Uganda and the USA along with those around the world that contribute to The Rotary Foundation… every year.

We say our good byes and wish them the best.. some of us may never return, but I am sure many will to see their work… at work !

Arrival at Namugalwe...

We arrive at Namungalwe to start the last of the handover ceremonies. The entire Namungalwe HC staff is assembled… all the computer are out on their desks… and we are all centered around the center piece of our efforts for a sustainable improvement in Maternal and Child Healthcare in Uganda.

It is key we have the Iganga District Health Officer, the Iganga Health District Director, Namugalwe’s Health Officer, Henry, who the previous three days attended HBB, HBB Plus and HMS training… Also that this meeting, the Iganga Rotary Club President Fred and his Community Service Steve is there… an interesting aside and indication of the support this Center will receive now… the District Health Officer as a student (High School science) of Rtn Steve from Iganga Rotary Club and also a university student or Prof/Rev Sam Luboga.

Some heart felt words from many of us assembled… Rotary Club President Fred underlined how important this way was… as now have another Rotary Club, local… to support this project as it develops on its own… what better way to sustainability.

The Iganga District Health Officials make wonderful and heart felt remarks and commit themselves to establishing Namugalwe HC III as a regional asset for healthcare working training, after admitting Namugalwe as long been neglected. If fact mentioned it was Sam Lugoba’s commitment and personal contributions to Namugalwe that has reinvigorated interest here.  WE HAVE HIT PAYDIRT… the wonder of Rotary at work.

I spoke and could not get out the words as I choked up in my comments seeing the fruition of 5 years or effort, all starting from my son’s interest in a medical experience in Africa… his first Global Health expericne, but now thanks to Rotary, not his last. He has after this trip committed himself, in his fellowship in NeoNatal care, to a Masters in Global Public Health.  I was overwhelmed by the site of the entire HC staff assembled around the computer network.. and the outpouring of support and commitment… The Rotary Foundation at it finest.

I then asked Harriet Obo, the Kampala North Rotary Club Service Projects director to take over the handover.. what a great moment, all the HC and Health District officials extending hands over the equipment.

Then over to the maternity wards to see the beds, sterilizers and other HC equipment.

We say "see your next year" to Iganga Rotary Club President Fred...

We depart… our Uganda HC visit part of this VTT complete… but there is more. Stay tuned, I will update more on my return to show more of our work… 

On the road into Kamapala... the BIG city 

We arrive at our "home" in Kampala.. Grand Global Hotel... a hot dusty but momentous trip to Iganda Health District

The Rotary network between USA and Uganda is strong and sustainable.  Year 3 of our project and the conclusion of our Maternal and Child Healthcare GG is already deep into the planning stages… With the partnership growing between Drexel University and Makerere University now official at the highest levels… our healthcare education efforts will be sustained for years to come with exchanges of faculty and students in medicine, nursing, public health, nursing, engineering, law, business and more.  Wow, what a VTT this year…

Now a VTT from Uganda Makerere and Kampala North will come to Drexel for three weeks in May to focus on distance education to be supported wby the computers donated this last year.  Thanks to ALL !!

A Side Trip to Namalemba Health Center

While our OB’s were training in HMS at Namugalwe… we took a side trip with Bob John, the CompuPoint Driver and the Pediatric Residents, Dr. Marilyn Mendoza and Dr. Ryan Smith to see the other Inganga district Health Center… Namalemba.  Namalemba is a faith based privately operated Health Center Level II… it serves the local community around Namalemba and is about 80 km from Namungalwe. This center has seen significant support from Rotary Club of Kampala North.

We get on the busy, bumpy, dusty road back to Inganga travel a bit more east then north.

We arrive to the well maintained HC Level II, who are hoping some day for level IV (a doctor and an operating theater is present in HC’s IV)… it is the energy and hope for the future that this center exudes that make them a natural partner, along with the fact that a few Kampala North Rotary club members have ancestor homes in the area and visit often to help their parent’s and the communities of their childhood… they are giving individuals and they will assure the success and sustainability of this project’s investments.

The Chairman George greets us with open arms and we tour the center with our pediatricians… meanwhile the computer networking equipment is dropped off and installation begins in a secure space.

We meet the community’s school head master and are welcomed with open arms as well… he is SO excited a computer teaching center for health workers and for community members is being installed… he indicates this will transform the community, having access to computers with internet connection and wireless broad casting to the center’s various buildings.

We get to meet and greet the local student in class…. We did disturb them a bit and apologized to their teachers for getting the students so excited… it is the health, welfare and medical worker training that will benefit the Namlemba community were are so proud about as we prepare to come the next day in complete computer installation and to officially hand over our Rotary donations.

We depart after the obligatory "few words" and tell them we will see them tomorrow for the official hand over.