Fall Newsletter 2016
For the Teasdale-Corti Foundation, working with Lacor Hospital gives us not only a sense of pride from the incredible work accomplished every day, but also the conviction that we provide a tangible and truly important contribution to the functioning of Lacor. The Foundation could not, however, do this work without the indispensable support of our donors. We hope that you share with us that pride and that you know that your donations make an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of people.
Lacor Hospital has a charitable mission to care for the poor, and a long-term vision of training the next generation and increasing the number of workers in a country that lacks skilled labor in the field of healthcare.
On behalf of the Teasdale-Corti Foundation and the Lacor Hospital, we wish to thank from the bottom of our hearts all those who support the hospital’s work. Dr. Lucille Teasdale would be delighted to see the extent of support from her homeland today. It has been 20 years since this extraordinary woman, a model for many, has left us. Recognizing the extent of your support is a wonderful way to celebrate the anniversary of her death.
On this occasion, we invite you to be part of the story of Lacor by making a donation, small or big. Every dollar counts.
On page 2 of this newsletter, you will find an interview with Dr. Christina Zarowsky, professor and researcher at the University of Montreal. On page 3, you can learn more about the exceptional photographer Mauro Fermariello, and on page 4 we present the latest news from Lacor Hospital.
Wishing you a good read,
The Teasdale-Corti Foundation Team
Dr. Zarowsky, after working many years as a medical doctor, you decided to do a PhD in anthropology, which led you to work extensively in Africa, and today you are part of the story of Lacor Hospital. What brought you here?
I wanted to do work that brought me close to the everyday lives of individual people but would also help change the conditions in society and in policy that cause suffering – I wanted to help heal not only individuals, but also society. And I wanted to do this not as a “lone ranger,” but together with others who had vision and passion and also cared about and paid attention to evidence. So the combination of medicine, anthropology, public health, and a commitment to social justice and to kindness and compassion brought me to this kind of work.
Can you tell us more about this research project?
The Mochelass “Mother-Child Health: Lacor-South Sudan” project is funded by Canada’s IMCHA initiative on Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa, in partnership with IDRC, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), and Global Affairs Canada.
The project focuses on empowering communities to identify high risks cases and enhance referral in northern Uganda and South Soudan, a Lacor Hospital and Torit Hospital collaboration, as well as University of Montreal. It is to improve maternal and child health by engaging women’s leadership in community.
The project starts by asking communities, health workers, managers, and policy makers what the problems and opportunities are, and what works and doesn’t, and why, in order to fine tune an intervention to support community mobilization and health service change. Then we will implement and evaluate this participatory intervention in communities and in the health services to improve provision and utilization of prenatal and postnatal care and assisted delivery.
Will this project have an impact not only on Lacor Hospital but also in the communities surrounding Lacor?
Yes! We expect to see increased and improved health care delivery services at both the hospital and health centre levels, with improved referral and supervision systems, better health worker performance and motivation, and increased responsiveness to community needs and demands.
You have been to Lacor Hospital twice now; what was first impression of Lacor?
I was incredibly moved by the evidence of many, many years of commitment to both excellent health care and, as importantly, to CARE – for each other, for staff, and especially for the communities and patients served by Lacor. It is a dynamic (to put it mildly!) place where the challenges are clearly massive but the energy and quality are palpable.
Thank you again Dr. Zarowsky for your time and contribution to this project!
Almost thirty years ago, Mauro’s passion for photography led him to leave his work and move to Milan in pursuit of his dream. His pictures have since been published in several journals and newspapers in Italy and internationally (New Scientist, The Lancet, Focus, The Sciences, Time, The Guardian, Corriere della Sera, and more). He has also reported from Bosnia, Iraq, Cambodia, and Uganda. He currently works with an English agency of Science Photo Library, but has decided to take some time off to return to Lacor, almost 10 years after his last trip, to take another set of photos.
Mauro’s pictures are as beautiful and intimate as ever. Showing the various activities undertaken during his trip, his blog features pictures with short text descriptions (in Italian, with several English translations). We feel privileged to have such a talented photographer to document life at Lacor Hospital, and we’re delighted to share some of Mauro’s amazing images with you in this newsletter. For more pictures, we invite you to visit Mauro’s blog: https://www.truestories.it/
“During my eight years of absence, Gulu has always been for me a very small town in northern Uganda crossed by a long red road from Kampala to Sudan, with extreme poverty difficult to describe. My first visit was in 2007, just after the civil war, where the rebels had inflicted on the population all kinds of atrocities. After being forced to live in refugee camps to escape the violence, people slowly began to return to their houses to cultivate the fields and restart business. But everyone, adults and children, were still physically and mentally affected: they were thin and their eyes showed insecurity and fear.
So what has changed in these years of absence? We arrive in Gulu early afternoon, and we pass through the town to reach Lacor Hospital. My first surprise was to note the disappearance of the long red road. For a photographer, it was a fantastic backdrop for photographic settings, but for nurses of Lacor Hospital who were washing the floor three times a day to remove the dirt from the hospital floor, asphalt was a real blessing.
And then I saw the people; faces were more relaxed; a few extra kilos and regular clothes, even sometimes elegant. And I noticed that almost everyone had a cell phone!
Passing the entrance to Lacor Hospital, I had another surprise: the entrance was completely redone, in the background there is a new building, and in the center, a large monument with a painting of Lucille Teasdale, Piero Corti, and Matthew Lukwiya.
And lastly, I was delighted to see the number of young doctors and the remarkable presence of young women among them. A good example of a changing society!”
– Mauro Fermariello, 2016
Lacor Hospital’s operations have been shaped by long years of war, post-conflict crises, and many epidemics. Now, after almost 10 years of peace, progress in controlling infectious disease, and longer life expectancy, the hospital can finally take the time to reflect on shifting the orientation and processes of the organization in order to continue operating efficiently and effectively in a changing context.
With war, crises, and widespread epidemics, the hospital had to organize its scarce human resources primarily on workload management, focusing mainly on streamlining activities. This emergency-oriented approach was necessary at the time, but today, with the return of peace and stability in northern Uganda, comes an epidemiological transition, from malnutrition and communicable diseases to non-communicable, often chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Although last year, the malaria epidemic caused a high tide of a 110% bed occupancy rate, crowded wards are now generally following a downward trend. This allows the hospital to focus on innovative approaches to sustainability and quality improvement. Lacor’s management has decided to focus this year on patients’ experience while consolidating quality and sustainability.
Lacor Hospital has the difficult task of providing quality service at a low cost while ensuring the sustainability of its operation. This is an important challenge because, on one hand, patients currently only pay an average of approximately 20% of the cost of the service they get. On the other hand, the cost of health products and services around the world are rising. Moreover, changes in policy can increase expenses, such as the recent change in policy on malaria treatment: severe malaria is now treated with injectable artesunate, requiring admission; admissions (in-patient department) are 15 times more expensive than out-patient department care.
Faced with these multiple challenges, Lacor makes every effort to keep true to its mission by continuously adapting to the changing environment.
Lacor Hospital wouldn’t be the institution it is today without the people and organizations throughout the world supporting it, and the staff working there. Teasdale-Corti Foundation thanks each and every one of you.