Pharmacy is busy this time of year. With the onset of the rainy season, there is the inevitable increase in the number of malaria patients, diarrhoea and vomiting, and other infectious diseases. The pharmacy building is in need of repair from several years of water damage.
In the outpatient department, work has finished on the new antenatal clinic adjoining the consultation rooms. Here, the mothers come for their check-ups. The clinic building is new, but the old furniture and equipment is all that is available to use.
Whilst waiting for the midwives to see them, it is hoped that mothers may be given the opportunity to watch educational videos on safe motherhood via a screen on the new adjoining wall of the antenatal waiting area.
If the midwives find a problem with a pregnancy, we now have the ability to offer these mothers an ultrasound scan to check on the baby’s progress and plan their mode of delivery. The scanner is a Chinese made Sonoscope Model A6 with variable curvilinear probe 2-7.5 MegaHz; second hand but works well, and with its internal battery, scanning can continue even when there is a power outage.
These frequent outages and voltage fluctuations take their toll on these sensitive machines, in spite of voltage stabilisers. A new ultrasound machine would allow this service to continue uninterrupted, for the antenatal clinic as well as for general patients admitted on the wards, or seen in the outpatients.
For staff and patients there is a hospital “mini-supermarket” that sells the everyday essentials needed for patients and their guardians alike. It is need of a new fridge, for storing drinks and milk from the sisters’ cow herds.
The sisters have also opened the Divine Canteen for other bits and pieces, including children’s clothing and shoes; many patients come to the hospital with neither. Like other buildings around the hospital, both these hospital shops are in need of major repair.
The hospital generator is needed most days, when there is power outage from the main grid supplied by the hydro-electric Owen Falls dam in Jinja. It’s a British made Broadcrown diesel generator, that replaced an old smaller, German Kirsch D55, 7yrs ago. It provides power to the maternity, general and childrens’ ward, theatre and the lab.
It is not powerful enough to supply the x-ray machine however, located near the physiotherapy department. This results in trauma cases often having to be referred to other hospitals for x-rays. A larger replacement, or additional generator would allow this facility to operate whenever needed.
In the past, the old wind generator provided power to the hospital but was damaged during a particularly violent storm in 2013 when its rotator blades were destroyed. A modern, high tensile wind generator would bridge the gap in the hospital’s lack of essential power.
The computers donated by Rotary Doctor Bank to run the MedicAudit software in Outpatients have made a significant difference to daily accounting in this department and in administration.
Like most rural mission hospitals, the hospital vehicles have a short life-span due to the rigors of usage whatever the weather and “road” surfaces. The Land Rover is a 1989 model, and is used for the outreach programme to provide clinics to neighbouring villages.
Similarly with the hospital tractor, which is of the same age, and in need of replacement.
The hospital was originally a leprosarium back in the 1930’s so historically had most of its buildings spread out, to reduce the fear of infection that was of major concern at the time. Subsequently, with new staff housing and hospital buildings, the hospital in general now covers some 800 acres of land, which is either grassed or used for cultivation. During dry season grassed areas are not a problem. But when the rains come, there is rapid growth which requires regular cutting, as snakes prefer the longer grass. The tractor when not ploughing, is employed to power the ageing grass-cutter.
Ploughing is needed nearly every day across the hospital’s farms in readiness for planting. Repairs have kept both the tractor and grass cutter up and running longer than expected as there are no spare parts readily available.
In addition to the tractor, the hospital hires a team of operators with petrol engine strimmers to try and keep on top of the rapid seasonal growth. Having access to their own strimmers, the hospital would keep costs down as well as grass length.
The hospital’s Social Club is nearing completion. It has a new roof, electricity and now a water supply. A new coat of paint has just been added. It is now ready for the business contractor from Kampala to set up the essentials within; the freezer, cooking items tables and chairs, and TV screen. This service is aimed to provide out of hours entertainment and relaxation for staff, and try and improve their retention at Buluba. Being in a rural area, the village generally lacks the amenities and entertainments provided by towns.
3Km from the hospital is the primary school at Namagera village. It’s called the Sunrise School run by local staff and the head master, Mr. Tewali Harunah. It has already achieved excellent results within the sub-county from the hard work of teachers and students alike, but their working environment is basic in the extreme. They have the land to develop classrooms but not the resources. What are needed most urgently are basic classrooms to replace the shelters they are currently being used for teaching. The black nylon sheets used to protect students from dust and rain on the outside, double up as blackboards for the teachers to use on the inside.