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Final week of medical elective!

A fascinating week in the Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda, for medical student Sarah Read- working in the chronic disease ward and a very busy emergency room.  

Today marks our last full day in Uganda, and I can’t believe how fast this past month has gone. It’s been even better than I even imagined and I have learnt so much and had so many incredible experiences that will stick with me for a long time.

This week has probably been the week I’ve found the most interesting in the hospital. I spent a couple of days on what is referred to as the chronic diseases ward – most children on this ward have sickle cell anaemia, something really common here but something I have not come across in the UK. Surprisingly, I find it really interesting and have learnt so much about it whilst here. However, the complications of sickle cell can be severe, especially somewhere like Uganda where disease management is limited. I’ve seen so many children who have had strokes due to sickle cell, in varying stages of recovery – the impact of the disease on their life is massive, both financially and physically.

Life on the wards.

I also spent more time in the emergency room where I was able to see lots of interesting cases – there seemed to be many babies with congenital problems brought in this week. It was interesting to see how congenital problems are dealt with here, particularly with regards to cardiac disease. Generally, this is associated with poorer outcomes than it would be in the UK due to only one hospital in the country offering surgical procedures for children. Most children present too late for surgery to be effective anyway. It’s interesting how the lack of antenatal care here has such a massive impact on children’s health. However, it was nice to here that mother to child HIV transmission has decreased due to improvements in obstetrics.

A very busy emergency room! Something that has shocked me is the problems with oxygen supply they have here. All oxygen comes in large cylinders, but lots of the necessary equipment to set it up is broken or held together with tape. Oxygen is only available in the emergency room and so is only available to the sickest of children.

I was also able to make it to Brownies this week where I was able to see more of the work they are doing around female empowerment and inspiring the girls to aim high and work hard. They also wrote some lovely letters for me to bring back to my Brownie unit in Liverpool – something I am really looking forward to sharing!

It’s been such an amazing four weeks it’s hard to believe we fly home tomorrow! We ended the week in hospital by giving over the medical supplies from the UK, all of which were received so gratefully. I’ve been so privileged to have this opportunity and so grateful for all the support we’ve all received from everyone. I’m so excited to share all the pictures and more stories when we are back! Thanks for all the support throughout this last month, now it’s just the flight to get through! 🙂 x

Sarah Read – 27 July 2018