Lyths in Uganda

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Typhoid Epidemic

Wambale is an 8 year-old boy, currently in our ward struck down by typhoid. His intestine perforated and he underwent surgical removal of a section of his gut. He needed re-operation twice, and is still discharging faeces. Typhoid fever is a bacterium that is transmitted by the faecal-oral route. It affects millions in the world today, particularly in poor areas with a high-density population

These cases are the worst abdominal catastrophes that we ever encountered.” Are the words of three surgeons who worked in Kagando in decades past. But in those days it was perhaps 2 cases in a year. In the past 5 years there have been almost 500 cases (half children) operated on in Kagando, with about one in five dying. Many have endured months of suffering, with family, nurses and doctors doing their utmost before they died, as emaciated skeletons. Families have to sell their fields, their only financial asset to pay the hospital bills, causing further poverty and malnutrition.

Several volunteers, and one research group from Florida, USA worked on this outbreak. In the past 6 months a young American student, an Australian surgical trainee and myself formed a team that have got to the bottom of exactly ‘where’ and ‘why’ the disease is occurring. This week we start on ‘how many’ of the scores of patients with fever each week actually have typhoid, and not malaria. We then have an opportunity in March to present the work to Uganda’s Minister of Health, and to roll out the information to the community, with solutions on prevention.

For this we need about £500 for lab expenses (£3 per patient). If you would like to contribute, make a cheque to the ‘International Relief Fund’, marked Typhoid Research and send it to Vine Church, 131 Garvock Hill, Dunfermline. KY11 4JU, Scotland. Tel 01383-631001. (Gift Aid applies) Any excess money it will go to the ‘operating theatre extension’, which we are about to build in January, and for which we need funds.

Roof-raising in the mountains

Yesterday were co guests-of-honour at a fundraising event, to build the roof of a Sunday school room (the children currently meet in the open). For our first time we drove round the south of the Ruwenzoris, and 15 miles up the other side. The route took us high into the hills, ½ mile from the Congo. The last half hour was on foot. We went with our good friend Rev Asa, who was born there, and used to walk 21 miles round trip to school each day, together with 1,000 ft down and up!

Most villagers have no cash, so buying roof materials money must be raised from the wealthier, or from visitors. After a traditional Anglican service the congregation brought in every kind of produce that grows there, and chickens, ducks, guinea pigs, and goats. In the next 2 hours everything was auctioned. Helen auctioned a goat! We bought pineapples and sugar cane to be divided amongst the 200 children, and we carried home 2 chickens, and a pile of other food!

At the end of the day £400 was raised, which was within range of the target, so everyone was delighted. We were exhausted after an 11 hour day!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A young Congolese saved

Lafurva, from Eastern Congo was injured in a road accident 6 years ago at the age of 14. Because of temporary head injuries, the staff passed a catheter that sadly damaged his urethra. A second catheter was passed through the abdomen to his bladder. Infection set in, blockage, further operations and over the years he started to drip slowly from a hole in his abdomen. His kidneys were obstructed, and he got severe anaemia. He was dying.

In June this year Lafurva and a brother heard of a visiting urological surgeon hundreds of miles to the south. They went there, and an operation was done. Once again he could pass urine normally again. Wonderful! But it was to last only a few weeks. The new urethra narrowed down again, and he was back to dribbling, misery, and facing death.

Was there anywhere else they could try? Across the border in Uganda was a Christian hospital called Kagando. Could they help? The two men went, found the hospital, and wonders, a foreign specialist. Hope started again!

Dr David spoke to them each day in a mixture of French, Swahili, and Lukonzo. He arranged Xrays and scans, explained the problem, and how an opening could be made between Lafauva’s legs, which would bypass the obstruction, enable him to pass urine with a normal stream and be dry again. It wasn’t perfect, but the kidneys and his life could be saved. Three weeks later they were on their way back home, cheerful and thankful – for life, for Kagando, and the doctor and staff. Thank God.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Huts to university in 50 years!

In 1964 Kagando Hospital began when expelled missionaries from Congo took over a disused leprosarium, consisting of a dozen asbestos Nissan huts, see picture.

Yesterday the Danish ambassador opened new accommodation and lecture rooms for the 260 strong nursing school, funded by the Danish government. This school is the basis of the anticipated Kagando Nursing Degree Course, which will be linked to the Christian University near Kampala. Wow!

These links help the peasant community here reach into the modern world. Thank God.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

First school to receive books

2 months ago Helen's teacher-colleague invited her to kindly visit the new primary school, which he had helped to start in his area in the hills. Although Helen had a painful ankle at the time she just managed the 20 minute walk up a hilly footpath.

Local parents had started a school with 100 pupils. They had rented 4 rooms, and hired 4 teachers, who taught 4 classes from nursery to P3, but but with no books or even teacher-guides. Imagine the response when Helen arrived a 2nd time, laden with books for all.

We now have received book money for 4 schools, but are still aiming for 10 (see blog 'Early Readers'). Would you like to help transform a school?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Surgeon Robert, answer to prayer

From January this year Frank, our previous general surgeon and medical director for has been preparing to to leave for higher Urology training in Tanzania. Since then many have been praying fervently for his replacement.

Robert, the same age and surgical experience as Frank from a church hospital in the far East of Uganda arrived to fill the gap with a week to spare. Whew! His reasons for the choosing Kagando included "Dr Lyth" and "You do so much with so little.".

Robert is a warm sociable character, ex-boxer and rugby player, who will get on well here. However his wife and 5 young children remain the East 450 miles away, so they will need our prayers.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Silver Jubilee

We were invited to speak on parenting to a thousand people at the celebrations of the Episcopal church of South Ruwenzori. Eight children helped us on stage with a play, contrasting two different families. After that we lead a session for hundreds of children on living a christian life.

The number of churches has quintupled in 25 years to 400, and the membership grown to 85,000! The church is also active in health care, education, water supply, agriculture, finance and other areas. Something to celebrate!