I wanted to write a factual blog post, comparing the health systems of UK and Australia to Uganda. I tried to look up percentages of complaints in UK and Australia but I was directed to procedures on how to make a complaint. I then went to search on death rates in hospitals but I immediately became sceptical about the Ugandan statistic since it was a government website. My laptop battery is low and my little solar unit’s light is flashing (currently in a blackout) so let me just write about what I have seen…
Yesterday I went to visit Dorcus, a Ugandan mother of two (pregnant with her third) who is in the maternity unit of the local government-run hospital. Dorcus, like many other Ugandan women, has HIV and is very ill at the moment. For two days she has been unconscious in hospital. Yesterday was the first day she could actually take water. Dorcus is a student at the TEAMS tailoring school. An English friend of mine currently staying with me (who heads up the project) had advised that I also visit her. My friend used up the majority of my boiled drinking water to fill up empty bottles for me to take to the hospital. To be honest, I felt a pang of annoyance that there wasn’t much drinking water left in our house and I would have to boil a lot more and drink warm water.
When I walked inside the maternity unit I was struck with a crowded ward of local women, their children and their friends/relatives. There was no medical staff to be seen. There are bars on the windows (didn’t see any screens) and no mosquito nets. In an area rife with malaria, it is difficult to understand how a hospital can have no nets! I was met by a friend of mine, Naomi, a truly strong woman who was caring for Dorcus, along with her sisters; her husband was sitting on the floor nearby. No government hospitals have nurses; you have to bring your own carers with you. There is no ‘clean’ water in the hospital, which means there is only a town ‘mains’ water connection but a high chance you will get typhoid if you drink it. There is no bore-hole in the vicinity – quite unfathomable when you think of the amount of non-government organisations that have come in and out of this area over the past 15 years.
With now a feeling of guilt I handed over my boiled drinking water for them and wished I had brought more – how self-righteous I had been! It is almost at the end of the dry season and ridiculously hot! No electricity, no fans. Naomi made sure I had a section of the bed to sit on and I was comfortable before she continued to bathe down Dorcus. She could barely open her eyes and could not hold herself up. I looked around that maternity ward and silently thanked God that I wouldn’t have to be in a hospital like this; no matter which country I was in. Fortunately, those with some money here (or health insurance) can afford a private hospital with health facilities we are more accustomed to.
It will be an absolute miracle if Dorcus leaves hospital alive. And a double miracle if she delivers a healthy baby since she has had little fluid over the past few days. I prayed a short prayer with Naomi for Dorcus before departing, returning back to my comforts but plagued by what I had seen.
I am writing this post for two reasons. Firstly, yes, I have tried to be emotive and I hope I have possibly helped you to consider how absolutely blessed we, from western countries, are! Our public health systems may not be perfect, but they are certainly a cut above the rest!
Secondly, please pray for Dorcus. Let this be part of her testimony and may she make a full recovery!