Summary Report from Visit to Lira University, Uganda: 2016

Summary Report from Poole Africa Link Visit to Lira University, Uganda: 2016

Team Members

Alison Ahvee, Senior Paediatric Nurse
Frankie Dormon, Consultant Anaesthetist and Lead
Olivia Davies, Medical Trainee in Elderly Medicine
Hilary Fenton Harris, PAL Co-ordinator and Midwife
Sandy Lynn, Physiotherapist
Antoinette McAulay, Consultant paediatrician
Peter McEwan, Consultant neonatologist
Judy Mella, Associate Specialist Surgeon
Lesley Milne, Lecturer in Midwifery
Jamie Pride, IT Specialist


This was the second teaching visit to Lira. At the request of the university it was carried out over 4 weeks, with staggered teams mainly staying for 2 weeks, but Frankie Dormon staying for the entire 4 weeks. This ensured a prolonged period of teaching, but was complex to arrange, and made it more difficult for team cohesiveness.

The team taught both to the University students in Lira University, and clinical teaching to the the doctors, nurses and nursing students at Lira Regional Referral Hospital (LRRH). Frankie Dorman ran a BASIC course for HDU management assisted by various members of the team. Training for the new medical Interns was also arranged.  During the visit we have extended our network and have a number of further objectives to be achieved.


The team stayed at the Kanberra Hotel in Lira which was good, clean accommodation at a very reasonable cost. We were fortunate to have the services again of the same driver, who kept us safe and smoothly managed our complex travel arrangements.


The University now has 4 years of students studying with the first graduations due to take place in October 2017. There is a clear plan agreed with the Ugandan government for a full University Teaching hospital (100 beds) and Medical School, with the hospital apparently being funded by both private and government resources. Clinical work at the hospital has still not started due to a number of issues, but building work is continuing including both more university lecture theatres and a university hospital with 100 beds. We had an extremely useful meeting with Professor Jasper and were able to agree a Memorandum of Understanding.

Lira Regional Referral Hospital (LRRH)

The Hospital has beautifully kept grounds and is cleaned on a daily basis, but most of the wards are cramped and in need of significant decor. There seemed usually to be an electricity supply and water available.

LRRH as previously had few trained doctors. In addition the Interns only arrived in our third week, due to the national intern strike and lack of accommodation, compounding the workforce issues. Senior trained nurses and midwives were also a scarce resource. Nursing students from six different institutions attend LRRH. The impact of this was numerous students on every ward having little clinical guidance or teaching. Many often seemed uncertain what to do, and spent much of their time sitting watching or chatting. Many of these students who we are helping to train are worried that they will not get jobs when they qualify.

Basics Course

Earlier this year Frankie Dormon had attended training in Hong Kong to deliver The “Basics Course” on Intensive Care management and we delivered this course in a modular fashion over the 4 week period.  Whilst we had hoped to attract mainly doctors, the majority of attendees were senior nurses and clinical officers whose attendance and interest was excellent. The senior doctors are so busy with many other commitments that we would be concerned about their ability to run a HDU/ITU service.

Team Involvement and Teaching

We delivered considerable hours of teaching at the University.  However we had some difficulties initially with the previously agreed lecture timetable due to internal difficulties between the American Lecturers from the Peace Corps and the Uganda lecturers. There was less local tutor involvement than last year with some of the tutors undertaking post- graduate training. Perhaps as a result of these difficulties, some students seemed less engaged with our program, and either did not attend or arrived late. Despite this the vast majority of students were very enthusiastic about our educational input as indeed were the University and NGO tutors.

Total hours of teaching were 450 which included 64 hours of formal University teaching.

Future Plans

  1. To arrange if possible a further visit in March 2017, and/or a visit timed with the first graduation at Lira University.
  2. Further visits with support for Medical, Surgical, Anaesthetic, Midwifery, Physiotherapy and Paediatric departments would all be beneficial.
  3. When the University hospital opens we should explore longer visits by medical staff who would like to take time out of their training.  They would be supported by PAL members who are familiar with local difficulties.
  4. Professor Paul Thompson has expressed an interest in working with us, which would be highly beneficial to the University Link.
  5. Explore a proposal for Poole Africa Link to collaborate with the Northern Universities in Uganda.

Frankie Dormon

Medical Lead for Poole Africa Link.
December 2016