Window on Kisiizi

Window on Kisiizi

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Special deliveries...

Well, we have certainly noticed the 9-months post-Christmas holidays impact on birth rate with a big surge in deliveries meaning Hanna has been working really hard.  By 27th September there had already been 220 births in the month!  As we are still short of senior experienced midwives, and as our percentage of abnormal deliveries is  high because many normal deliveries still take place at home, it is quite demanding.   

In addition the intern doctors rotate every 3 months and need induction and support to settle in.  We are grateful to Dr. Helen Allott from Royal Berkshire Hospital who has made many visits to Kisiizi and has just been here for 6 weeks.  She ran a series of training sessions for the intern doctors on emergency obstetrics.

Special Care Baby Unit continues to care for a range of neonatal problems including small preterm babies.  The photo above shows one of our nurses inserting a cannula to give intravenous fluids for a small premature baby in an incubator. What makes the photo even more special is that the nurse was delivered by Ian when we were first in Kisiizi in the late 80's!

We never know what we will see next.  The photos show a baby born with hyper-extended legs due to mother having oligohydramnios (reduced water around the baby) in pregnancy.   

The baby was treated with plaster of paris casts and physio and made excellent progress.


It’s good to see things improved around the compound whether it be fences and paths or vehicles and buildings. It had been embarrassing to see some patients in pain being transported to the wards on trolleys which were shaking due to the rough gravel driveway causing more discomfort so it is encouraging to see the new path from Out-Patients to the ward area now available.  We plan to further extend it to the surgical ward to enable transfer of theatre patients to be smooth and comfortable as well.  We are grateful to friends at Mortimer Church in Reading for sponsoring the path.

 Some of our vehicles are quite old now and the roads here do shake them up a lot so it has been good to see the mechanics working on renovation of the old landrover.  They were so enthusiastic with the spray painting that they have now gone on to also paint hospital lockers!

On the building renovation side we are really grateful to the churches and individuals who supported the work on the old flax factory that houses our surgical wards.   
The first half is open with female patients, mostly those needing gynaecology operations.   

We hope to raise support to continue this work to the other side of the building which houses the male surgical ward and the extension with the female general-surgery patients.

Rev. Patrick sorting out the new Chaplain's office
The Chaplains have just moved to a new office that is much nearer to the Chapel and the wards so will be more convenient for the services – especially in the rainy season!  The room is more spacious and a good place for counseling and praying with patients and relatives.  It will be well used in the next few weeks as we prepare for the Hospital Mission on the weekend of 17-19th October which has the theme “Free Indeed” (which also happens to have been the title used for the magazine produced by the Christian Union at Ian’s medical school, the Royal Free Hospital in London).

Locally grown papyrus reeds are used to make fences.  Papyrus swamps are a common feature in the region though as the population grows very fast more and more swamps are being drained and used for agriculture.  The valley above Kisiizi is being increasingly cultivated with the result that the flow of water along the river and over our waterfall is significantly less than in the past which poses challenges to our hydro-electricity generation in the dry season.

Thes is it!

We are very proud of our son Mark who kept up the momentum with his PhD thesis and was able to hand it in recently... it represents a huge amount of work and is way beyond our understanding! 

He will now complete his post-doc research post at the end of September and start a new job teaching undergraduate chemistry students.

Visit to Mbarara...

Children at a road-side stall
We escaped for a weekend to Mbarara, a city 80 miles away.  We drove a hospital land-cruiser and it proved to be the best journey ever to Mbarara – the murram road (gravel that has been graded) to Rubaale was quite reasonable without significant potholes and took only about 50 minutes.  We then joined the main Kabale – Mbarara tarmac road which is now being upgraded properly and is completed past Ntungamo as far as Itojo government hospital.  It is being actively worked on from there to Mbarara which has always been the worst section of road … someone had even attempted to partly fill the very big potholes.  The road is still challenging as it has eroded and crumbled away on either side but is much better now the holes are easier to negotiate.  


 Ian then had a meeting with the team from Rimpscom, an IT company with whom he is working on Stre@mline, a database programme he had developed in Macclesfield (which is still used every day in the paediatric department there).  The hope is to adapt it to work in Kisiizi and to start with a pilot in Out-Patients.

Esther demonstrating grinding technique

We then enjoyed meeting up with Esther Kobusingye, our friend who had previously served many years in Kisiizi as Principal Nursing Officer.  On Saturday we went out with her to a new Culture Museum and Centre which was interesting and Esther was pleased to find details of her own family and tribal group ancestry.

We then went and visited Reverend and Mrs Katombozi who had also served in Kisiizi in the past.  It was good to be together again.

Rev. Zabuloni Katombozi, Ian, Mrs. Katombozi, Sister Esther Kobusingye
On Sunday we attended the morning service at St. Luke’s Chapel in Mbarara University with a large number of enthusiastic medical students and healthcare workers before going on to meet up with Amos and Mabel Twinamasiko who had also served in Kisiizi when we were first there – in fact Amos was Medical Superintendent when we first arrived in 1987.  We then went on for a short visit to Esther's home out in the rural area south-east from Mbarara and we drove on down to the border with Tanzania then turned westwards for home.

As we look back all those years we are grateful for the friends we made along the way and for blessing us with the chance to meet up again now.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

labour of love...

Mothers come long distances to have their babies in Kisiizi... one reason why Hanna is so busy!  Sadly there have been times where, especially at night, women have gone into labour and failed to find transport to come to Kisiizi.  We have had a couple of tragedies where mothers have died prior to arrival here and other times where they have come in at death's door.
overcrowded maternity ward

In addition, we have overcrowding on our maternity ward at times making it well nigh impossible to practice good infection control measures.

The rear aspect gives a pleasant outlook and we plan to plant trees & flowers

The response to this has been to build a Mothers' Waiting Home with support from our friends in Kisiizi Partners and we are delighted to see the building nearing completion.

It will provide comfortable and safe accommodation to allow mothers with known risks to wait here so that when they go into labour they can move  promptly to the maternity ward without any delay.
new beds in a bay in the Mothers' waiting home

Be prepared...

We hope it will never happen... but we are taking pains to prepare for any future outbreak of viral haemorrhagic fever such as Ebola.  We had both Ebola and Marburg within a couple of hours drive from Kisiizi in 2012 and some possible cases but in the end thankfully they all proved negative.  Now of course there are huge problems in west Africa with the Ebola outbreak going out of control and spreading quite rapidly.  Interestingly some specialists from Uganda have been sent to west Africa to try and help arrest the spread of the disease.
Student nurses attending the lecture on Ebola control measures

Hanna has been busy with our Patient Safety Nurse Agnes checking through our supplies of equipment for high level isolation.  We have updated our protocols as best we can in the light of the new interim guidelines issued by WHO on 9th August and Ian and Agnes ran training sessions on Ebola for the Staff and then the Students of the School of Nursing on 12th August to ensure people are aware of actions to minimise the potential spread of such infections should an outbreak occur.

jet setting...

All a bit of a whirlwind as we look back at the past couple of months... not sure how many different beds we slept in but it's well into double figures!
Friends of Kisiizi Day
We arrived back in Macclesfield to find our phone not working, car wouldn't start and then the internet collapsed on us after one day... umm!  But managed to sort things out then off again to Holland for a week to see the family.  Had a lovely welcome, met up with almost everyone including new arrivals, tried to support those facing challenging circumstances.
Worked on a grant application for Kisiizi in conjunction with colleagues from Countess of Chester hospital, Royal Berkshire Hospital and the Uganda Maternity & Newborn Hub links.
interview time..

Then back to UK, met up with friends old and new and then ready for Friends of Kisiizi day in Reading which was a great encouragement as we met with young and old from different parts of UK and Ireland.

Straight on the next day to help run the CMF Developing Health course for a fortnight.  Ian has been a director on the course for many years and this year was again a chance to meet wonderful people and get caught up in the enthusiasm to make a difference in healthcare in some of the poorest parts of our world.

We managed to get to France for a couple of nights in Normandy to see Ian's brother Richard and family who run a sheep farm.  First time Ian had diagnosed a hernia in a ewe!

Time flying with phone calls and orders to make for Kisiizi, preached in our church and gave feedback about Kisiizi and then a couple of days helping Ian's mother sort out the house she is selling.

Up bright and early to go to Gatwick with Mark and Ruth and then easyjet to Venice for our 3 night holiday... and in spite of the weather forecasts predicting definite thunderstorms we enjoyed quite good weather and a much needed rest.  We were all tired... Ruth has just completed her first year as a primary school teacher in Islington where she looked after a class with many children having special needs or significant social problems.  She will do a Masters in special needs next year.

With Ruth and Mark at our niece's wedding
Mark is writing up the last section of his PhD thesis which is going well.  He is working on a post-doc research programme.  It's something to do with the crystal structure of chocolate!  We don't know any more (and wouldn't understand it anyway) as he signed a confidentiality agreement with the organisation sponsoring the research.

Back to Gatwick, late night drive to Macclesfield, last minute packing then off again to our niece's wedding near Bedford.  It was a wonderful occasion to meet up with the family including Ian's sister Claire from Australia who had come over for the wedding.

Then back to Cheshire late at night for the last day before heading for Manchester airport at 4.30am (thanks Leslie!)

We flew Brussels airlines and it was a smooth trip to Kigali where we had one night before going up to Uganda.  We were warmly welcomed with a meal and speeches and very quickly it felt like we had never been away!