Cwm Taf Health Board and local charity PONT have joined forces to provide vital equipment for mothers giving birth at a Ugandan hospital.
The new, purpose-designed Universal Anaesthesia Machine (UAM) for Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, in Mbale, will allow uninterrupted surgical procedures to be carried out in the hospital’s gynaecology and obstetrics theatre.
Until now, interruptions to the hospital’s power supply and shortages of compressed oxygen have compromised its ability to provide urgent and emergency surgical procedures.
The UAM can deliver anaesthesia in the absence of power and oxygen, ensuring safe deliveries in a country whose maternal mortality rate is 43 times higher than the UK’s.
eryl.jpgDr Eryl Hicks, a consultant radiologist at Royal Glamorgan Hospital and chair of PONT’s hospital committee, said: “It’s unimaginable to people in the developed world that surgeons could find themselves operating in theatre without light and oxygen – but that’s what happens routinely in poorer countries like Uganda where power cuts and lack of essential medical supplies put patients’ lives at risk.
“This project is part of a continuing partnership with the people of Mbale to strengthen healthcare in their district and another example of professionals from PONT partnering with peers in Mbale to identify a problem and solve it together in a sustainable fashion.
“We are grateful to Cwm Taf Health Board for their continuing support through the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa initiative.”
The anaesthesia machine was co-funded by PONT, US anaesthetist Dr Valerie Rossetti and the Mbale Regional Referral Hospital. Dr Rossetti had been inspired by a paper written by Dr Jodie Smythe who has just completed a six-month volunteer placement in Mbale.
Dr Rossetti said: “Having been introduced to the UAM, I was struck at how perfectly it could fill the desperate need for a reliable anaesthetic delivery system so lacking in many of the resource-poor hospitals in which I have volunteered.
anaesthetist.jpg“Helping to donate a system is a wonderful way to support both my colleagues in Uganda, who labour daily under challenging conditions with limited technology to provide anaesthesia care, and their patients.
“I feel privileged to be a small part of improving anaesthetic capacity at Mbale.”
The manufacturer, Gradian Health Systems, is contributing the training of anaesthesia providers and biomedical technicians at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital later this month.
Dr Benon Wanume, director of Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, said: “We are excited to receive this new anaesthesia machine for labour and delivery. Our partners at Cwm Taf Health Board and our colleagues at PONT have made many valuable contributions to Mbale, of which this is the latest.
“On behalf of the patients, health workers, and the community in the Mount Elgon region we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to all those who made this dream come to pass. The UAM will save many mothers in our hospital. We are looking forward to a visit from PONT’s anaesthesia team in November to see the new equipment in action.”
Notes to editors
The photographs show (page one) the new UAM donated to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital with Dr Jodie Smyth and Dr Val Rossetti and (page two) the anaesthesia machine the hospital had been using in its obstetrics and gynaecology theatres.
pont.jpgPONT (Partnerships Overseas Networking Trust) is a Welsh charity providing community-to-community partnership between Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Mbale district in Uganda through direct personal relationships and volunteers. It was awarded two United Nations Gold Star awards in 2008 in recognition of its important work, one of only two projects in the world to receive such an award. Its focus is on training and development.
PONT’s hospital committee is employed by Cwm Taf Health Board and its members have been working with medical colleagues in Mbale Regional Referral Hospital since 2007. The group helped the hospital set up the region’s first endoscopy service; upgraded the hospital’s A&E department; trained midwives and community health workers to recognise obstetric emergencies and refer women to hospital with minimal delay and enabled the use of Kiwi ventouse extraction for obstructed deliveries. The obstetric anaesthesia project is one of several ongoing collaborations and new volunteers are always welcome.
For more information about PONT visit www.PONT-Mbale.org.uk
Mbale Regional Referral Hospital serves communities in eastern Uganda and is one of 13 referral hospitals in the country. It has approximately 460 beds, admits 60,000 patients per year and treats 100,000 outpatients.
Gradian Health Systems equips hospitals to deliver anaesthesia safely and economically by providing technology, service and training. It designs and builds equipment used worldwide in hospitals. Gradian is a social enterprise collaborating with partners in clinical medicine, national health systems, medical technology and philanthropy www.gradianhealth.org
Source: Cwm Taf Health Board