In 2007, Jim McWhirter, a GP near Henley-on-Thames, joined the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge. After hearing about the Rotary Doctor Bank, Jim volunteered to visit Kamuli Hospital in Uganda. His first visit in 2009 lasted five weeks and during that time, the antiquated X-ray unit broke down for the umpteenth time and could not be repaired. Jim promised the staff at Kamuli that when he returned to UK he would raise funds to send out a replacement X-ray unit. On his return home, Jim contacted family, friends, work colleagues and local Rotary Clubs and within a short time had raised enough money to buy a replacement X-ray unit, powered by rechargeable batteries, so that the unit could be used during the frequent power cuts that are a part of life in rural Uganda. The unit was shipped to Kamuli in May 2009.
Jim found that donations continued to arrive and so, through the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, he applied for a Matching Grant from the Rotary Foundation, to send a container load of medical equipment to Kamuli. He also sent two new Lister generators, so that power is always available at the hospital, when the outside supply fails.
In 2012 the maternity wing, the busiest part of the hospital, had to be evacuated as the roof was infested with termites, the building was declared unsafe. On hearing this, Jim appealed to the ever increasing group of people in Britain and abroad, who are supporting his work and the money was donated for the replacement of the roof.
Jim’s next project was to apply to the Rotary Foundation for a Global Grant, again through the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, to fund refurbishment and extension of the maternity ward and the conversion and extension of the old operating theatre to form a new ward. to the hospital. The application was successful and in early 2014, building work began and should be completed by the autumn of 2014.
Jim McWhirter’s latest venture is to improve management of rural mission hospitals in Uganda. This is done in close co-operation with Dr Rogers Kabuye, a surgeon with a particular interest in IT. He has written a computer programme to generate accurate patient and financial data to enable/allow optimum use of scarce human, financial and material resources. With proper staff training, this is proving to be very successful and the hospitals involved are already finding that their financial position is improving, enabling them to buy new hospital equipment or refurbish existing hospital buildings or employ more staff.
Since 2009 Jim has made 11 visits to Uganda and has raised more than £300,000. Every penny raised has been spent on improving healthcare in rural mission hospitals in Uganda as all the work done by Jim and all others involved with the Rotary Doctor Bank is entirely voluntary. In 2010. Jim was awarded the Rotary in Britain and Ireland Volunteering Award, for his work at Kamuli Mission Hospital.