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News Update From PAL 2015

News Update from Poole Africa Link

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October 2015 saw a change in direction for Poole Africa Link.  Due to the political situation in South Sudan, the scheduled trip was diverted to a new location in Lira, Northern Uganda.  The town of Lira has a referral hospital, with 500 beds, and several schools of nursing.  The one we used as our base was at a new University outside town, which currently has three intakes of midwifery students, (about 150 students in total) plus some business courses and IT courses.  In addition they have built a small maternity facility which is due to open shortly and they have ambitious plans to build a 200 bed hospital starting this December.  Funding is coming from the African World Bank and the Government are very supportive.

Frankie Dormon and Peter McEwen met the team last year on a 2 day visit.  We were hugely impressed by their enthusiasm and vision.  In the past year they have finalised their plans for a new hospital, achieved a practising licence for the maternity hospital and forged very strong links with Lira Regional Referral Hospital.     

We had a highly successful trip, were warmly welcomed by both the hospital and University and were able to spend many hours teaching both at the Hospital on the wards and at the University with lecture and scenario style teaching.  We were a team of 4, a midwife, surgeon,  paediatrician and anaesthetist. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge base of the students.  Many have worked in health care for some years and want to formalise their experiences and gain a good degree.  The midwifery course is delivering a very comprehensive curriculum which will include training in additional skills, so that the midwives will be able to run a small health centre and deal with many of the clinical situations that arise in Africa, where there may not be a doctor for many miles. They are learning more pharmacology, more nursing skills,   and some extended roles including diagnosis and minor surgery.  It is hoped that they will be able to provide basic anaesthesia including spinals, will have the necessary resuscitation skills and be able to perform some emergency surgeries.    We now need to look to the future and see this new addition to our charity as an ideal opportunity to continue with our support for South Sudan from a safer base, in addition we can provide much needed support to the new University.  The government of Uganda are committed to help South Sudan, and the University are very keen for us to develop training for both their students and for students from South Sudan.  The border is only 3 hours by bus and Juba is a 6 hour, $12 bus ride away.  In addition the political situation is stable, the accommodation more easily available and far cheaper and the area generally safer for teams to visit.

We believe that the University would be an excellent base for training South Sudanese and local nurses and doctors.  We would like to send senior trainees from UK in all specialities to gain experience of working in Sub Sahara Africa.  There are clinical and teaching opportunities, the area is safe and Uganda has an excellent record already of rolling out training to peripheral hospitals.  The safe obstetrics course, safe paediatrics course,  Primary Trauma course, have all been successfully rolled out in Uganda,  with local doctors now providing much of the training.  Lifebox have been to Lira and we saw an oximeter in use and the surgical safety checklist on the wall, but these initiatives will be so much more successful if there are doctors on the ground to keep reinforcing the messages.    Lira has a huge need for people to help them to move forward.  They have the infrastructure of wards, theatres, basic equipment but only 9 doctors when we were there.  They even have a brand new block,  with a16 bed Critical Care facility with two ventilators,  and  4 lovely theatres,  which is currently mothballed and waiting for the necessary nursing and medical staff to get started.  They have wisely decided to wait until they have the correct people in post before they take on the patients. 

The next step for us is to approach the colleges to see whether they would be able to support such a project, and to raise funds for trainees to visit for 3-6 months supported by a Consultant who would stay for 2-3 weeks in the beginning and then provide the mentorship from UK for the remainder of their stay.

In addition we propose to approach various organisations to see whether we can secure funding for doctors and nurses to visit Lira from South Sudan for training.  Either short courses or even the Midwifery 4 year course.

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Lira University College is in early stages of development.  The Faculty of Health Sciences has 3 intakes of midwifery students,  with ambitious plans to develop training on site and clinical training at Lira Referral Hospital.  The future sees a 200 bed hospital being developed on the site with further training and research opportunities.

The University and the Referral Hospital have excellent links and a very good relationship. We see the two hospitals working well together into the future.

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The maternity block is ready to open for outpatients and inpatient care including a facility for caesarean section.  The Government have given their approval in principle,  the University are now waiting for the appropriate documents to arrive.

The ward block has all the necessary equipment and room space,  including a small neonatal care area and theatre.  Some of the trolleys came from Poole A&E department!  

Dr James Elima receives a few items of equipment from Poole Africa Link team.  He is holding a book on Critical Care,  and hopes that we will be able to help him to develop the 16 bed Critical Care area.

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The equipment is available, but they need nursing staff to be trained, medical staff who understand the needs of African Intensive Care and plenty of energy from a Critical Care Lead.

If anyone wishes to contact me regarding taking this project forward.  Please send me an email to frankie [at] pride.me.uk Also copy in Hilary Fenton Harris Hilary.Fenton-Harris [at] poole.nhs.uk the Link main contact.  You can see more of our work on Facebook


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