Kasangati Health Centre level IV,
Clinical interest: Obstetrics and gynaecology
We spent the majority of our 6-week placement in maternity as we found this to be the busiest and most rewarding department to work in. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings were for general antenatal clinics, with Wednesday and Friday mornings hosting an antenatal clinic for those pregnant women with HIV. Our days would typically start at around 9.30am where we would help in the antenatal clinic by taking the blood pressures and weights of the waiting women, or by palpating their abdomens to assess the stage of the pregnancy. Once the clinic was done for the day we would either find ourselves helping to deliver & receive babies in the labour room, discharge women from the postnatal ward or assist the student nurses with the family planning clinic. Most days there was also the opportunity to go to theatre with Dr Ivan or one of the visiting doctors; these surgeries were usually C-sections, but there were occasionally other general surgical cases such as hernia repairs or hysterectomies. We would tend to head home at around 3pm, but it depended on how busy the department was.
We began our search for elective locations in January 2018; once we had decided on Africa as a general destination we narrowed it down to a few countries – Uganda included. From there we searched electives.net and contacted lots of different hospitals, and then waited for their response. Almost immediately we heard back from Enoch and David at CFYDDI, the organisation that is responsible for the Kasangati Health Centre elective. From the word go they were extremely helpful and very friendly, they sent us a very detailed elective guide with everything we needed to know about Uganda, Kasangati, CFYDDI and the elective programme.
One of the biggest draws to this elective was the cost and how CFYDDI used the money. The elective programme that Enoch and David have set up has all the advantages of going on an organised elective (i.e. accommodation, food, airport transfers and contact with the hospital all arranged) but without the huge admin fees that you often must pay with the bigger companies. As if the low cost wasn’t enough, CFYDDI use the money that elective students pay to fund their various projects (for example their school and community library).
Despite spending 6 full weeks at the hospital, we still had plenty of time to travel and explore Uganda at the weekends. We travelled to the capital Kampala twice; the first time we explored the Gaddafi Mosque, the Kasubi tombs and the largest church in the city before heading to Acacia Mall (a shopping mall aimed at expats) where we enjoyed an up-market dinner. Our second visit took us to a craft market aimed at tourists but selling beautiful souvenirs, we spent a couple of hours exploring this before heading back to Acacia Mall for another tasty dinner.
On another weekend we travelled to Jinja to go white-water rafting on the River Nile – something I would recommend!! We went with Nile River Explorers and had an incredible day out on the river; we then chose to stay at their river camp for the night in tents overlooking the Nile! We enjoyed Jinja so much that we returned to the camp the following weekend for a couple of days of relaxation.
The highlight of our trip had to be our journey to Murchison Falls where we did a 3-day safari. The safari was the Big-5 safari which was SO worth the £300 that we paid. The cost of the trip included transport to and from Kampala, transport around the park, park fees and accommodation for 2 nights.
The elective was honestly the best 6 weeks of my medical school life. I learnt an incredible amount from the staff at the hospital, something that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. The health centre and some of the things we saw whilst we were there has made me appreciate the NHS and English hospitals so much more!
The highlight of my trip was watching and helping the midwives resuscitate a baby who was born not breathing. 45 minutes passed before the baby made any respiratory effort of his own. The perseverance and skill displayed by the midwives was incredible, particularly given the lack of any real resuscitation equipment. Thankfully the baby survived and was transferred to a larger hospital for more specialist care.
My take home message would be that this elective is the one to pick if you want a family feel to your trip. Enoch and the team will make you feel as though you are part of their family, and that you are always welcome back!
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