Monday, February 14, 2011

From PINCC in Uganda, Feb. 2011

Hello to all you fans in the USA!  This is Kay Taylor, blogger of the month. PINCC is working this month in East Africa. Our first site is Gombe,Uganda: a small town about 2 hours from the capitol of Kampala. Uganda is a very beautiful place, full of green rolling hills, farms, woods, streams, and a huge lake, which is its southern border, bigger than Lake Tahoe, .  The Nile river has its start in this lake, and flows north to the Mediterranean. After our week of training, we have driven to Jinja, the town at the source of the Nile, where it leaves the lake.  It's a really spectacular place, with rapids and waterfalls, a wide river and lakeshore, and LOADS of birds. I was so excited to watch them this evening after we checked in to our lovely guest house. We will stay here 2 nights, and get to rest and do fun things tomorrow, before driving on Sunday for another 6 or 7 hours to reach Kisii, Kenya, where we'll work next week.
This has been a wonderful week.  We were the guests of 2 delightful grandmothers in their very nice home, surrounded by a banana plantation that grows at least 5 different kinds of bananas, from tiny sweet ones to large, thick plantains.  We ate them in many ways: steamed and mashed, called matoke; little ones for breakfast and snacks; ripe plantains, boiled and sliced, with a lemony sweet flavor; and more.  We've also had peanuts in several ways. They are ground and cooked into a sauce without roasting, and served over the matoke; roasted whole over charcoal (barbecued peanuts-yum!); roasted and ground coarse in vegetables and rice; but no peanut butter...they don't like it! Anyway, they have fed us 7 or 8 dishes every meal, with tea in the midmorning and late afternoon served with a snack.  We are not going hungry, for sure!
There are five of us on the team this week: myself and a resident doctor in OB/GYN from Baltimore (Katie); 2 nurse/midwives, Carol and Mary Fitz, and Mary L., a teacher and administrator from Denver. We have trained a group of 7 doctors, clinical officers, and midwives at Gombe Hospital, which is in a rural farming area west of Kampala, the capitol.  When we arrived, it was hot and dusty, as they had a drought going on; everyone was worried about the corn/maize crop failing and widespread hunger.  Well, on Monday, the President came by helicopter to campaign as the election is in 2 weeks, and that night, it started to rain.  It went on for 2 days, and now everyone thinks he brought the rain, and he'll probably win.  I think he would anyway, as he's been re-elected every 5 years for 25 years now. But the rain was spectacular, with lots of thunder and lightning all night long, and the dust is all gone.
Women here wear their traditional formal dresses to come to see the doctor, beautiful, colorful long dresses with puffed sleeves and a heavy satin sash. The waiting room looks like it's full of butterflies! The training went spectacularly well. The hospital is very well-run, with several teaching and quality improvement programs going on while we were there. The group of 9 nurse/midwives and doctors we trained was enthusiastic and hard-working, and were doing screening exams very well within 2 days.  They are about the best group we've ever trained. They have already established a weekly clinic to continue screening and find women who need treatment. They will bring them back to see us when we return in August. Then we'll teach treatment, and leave cryotherapy equipment so they can do it on their own. We gave the hospital equipment and supplies for exams to last till we return. We were lucky this trip: we only saw one lady with invasive cancer, and got her to the treatment center in Kampala. We saw 118 women this week, and found 7 abnormal cases, treating 5 with LEEP removal. We did another 49 Paps and some biopsies, and the staff has many more women scheduled to be examined in the next 2 weeks. The demand grew every day, as word spread. I think this hospital will be a regional referral center for women's health care when we finish their training!

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