Dear readers,

As everyone’s activities resume after the summer, this edition of the Lacor Hospital Newsletter will focus on optimism and people whose experience of the Lacor Hospital resulted in a boost of confidence.

First, we will meet Patricia and Patrah, close friends and future midwives, as they become acquainted with the intense work that awaits them at Lacor Hospital. Because they had the privilege of studying, the two young ladies radiate with optimism. United by a common life project, both of them dream of receiving a diploma and finding a good job. For them the future resides in school. The Lacor Hospital School.

It was the fear of losing her unborn child that drew Sharon to the Lacor Hospital when she suffered severe abdominal pains in her village an hour’s drive away. A medical test brought her confidence back: It was only a mild infection that was treated with medication. With her self-confidence back, she returned home to finish her pregnancy without complications.

Lucille Teasdale and Piero Corti’s work does not inspire trust only in Uganda. It does so in Canada too. The Become Part of the Story campaign receives the support of generous donors, which we are proud to introduce to you: The Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation, the Apotex pharmaceutical company, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Roncalli International Foundation and Groupe Maurice. 

We wish you a pleasant read!

Patricia is 23, and Patrah, 19. These two friends have come from far away to study hard at the Lacor Hospital School. They speak the language of Nebbi district where the Alur tribe lives, and have the same culinary traditions and dances. 

The meaning of their name provides the setting of their birth. Patrah is called Akelo, the name given to the second-born twin girl, which means a twin sister was born before her. Patricia is called Ayerango, which expresses surprise at a birth and literally means “What should I say?” 

They have already completed most of the two-and-a-half year study program to become midwives. When we met them in the garden of the school for nurses and midwives at the Lacor, they were awaiting the results of their last exams. And now what? “We will return home to our villages and wait for the announcement of the recruitment of new midwives.” 

Meanwhile, their days are intense. They start early in the morning, each of them assigned to a ward, usually pediatrics or maternity. First they help disinfect rooms and corridors. Indeed, early each day all departments are emptied, and patients wait outside in the courtyards while the attendants and students clean, wash and disinfect the premises. Our two future midwives then cooperate with the staff of the ward where they have been assigned. 

Each day they meet in class to study subjects such as obstetrics, gynecology, neonatology and pediatrics. Every week they have tests or group discussions. They study hard and in the evening after dinner, if they are not too tired, they discuss the topics addressed during the day or the cases seen in the wards. So what do these two young ladies who have had the privilege of studying dream of? A diploma leading to a good job, then earning those 500,000 Ugandan shillings a month, about $170 CAN, which they use to help their village and their brothers and sisters left at home. And perhaps also, one day, to pay tuition fees for their children. Because the future resides in school.

A telephone call arrives at the hospital switchboard: a pregnant woman is sick in a village. Fortunately the ambulance is available and can leave immediately. Sharon, a young mother, waits for the ambulance in the grip of very strong pains in her abdomen.

We do not know how many weeks Sharon is into her pregnancy.  After being seen at the Peripheral Health Centre of Lacor, the worst is feared: she may have lost her baby. A nurse gets in the ambulance and accompanies Sharon to Lacor: the road is long and very bumpy, every shock a threat to the unborn baby. The driver must drive quickly while being extremely careful to avoid the potholes in the road.

The ambulance races along for more than an hour across the savannah. It’s a race against time through dusty and hilly terrain. An ambulance is absolutely fundamental in carrying a patient like Sharon as quickly and safely to a health centre where she can be operated on urgently, if necessary. 

Finally the ambulance arrives at the hospital. Sharon is taken directly to maternity; and brought into radiology for an ultrasound. The pains are very strong. Sharon, alone for an interminable minute, closes her eyes and waits helplessly before she can know if her baby is still there with her. Sharon looks at the monitor. She is able to recognize the pulsing light on the screen as the beating heart of her child.

After completing the exam, the doctor tells Sharon her child is 26 weeks old, and is alive and well. Sharon is relieved, and the news makes her pain more bearable. She is settled into the maternity ward and awaits a diagnosis while she tries to rest. 

Shortly after, Sharon is visited by two young doctors who carefully study the ultrasound report and the medical record compiled by nurses.  The pain, meanwhile, has begun to dissipate. The diagnosis is, in all probability, the best possible: a simple infection to be treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Sharon must stay a few days under observation in the hospital, and then she can go home to finish her pregnancy.

Sharon’s story is not uncommon. Treating a mother or a child at Lacor costs an average of $25. Whatever the amount, a donation to the Mothers and Children chapter of the Become Part of the Story campaign makes a big difference. Thank you to all the donors for their continued support.

The Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation supports the Pharmacy Management project, which includes: 

• Upgrading the professional qualifications and skills of all pharmacy professional staff 

• Improving the inventory management system

• Building capacity in order to effectively manage procurement and in-kind donations, analyze drug consumption pattern and costs by management, and ensuring monitoring of drug prescription and administration quality. 

The project puts forward the need to improve the Lacor Hospital pharmacy by renovating both the physical space and the equipment for preparing and managing drugs. The Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation also makes contributions to the Operational Costs and Mothers and Children chapters, which has allowed the Hospital to care for over 25,000 patients in 2017.

In March 2017, Apotex shipped to the Lacor by air, at their own expense, urgently-needed drugs in the Hospital’s “formulary list”, of which around 96 percent were intended for mothers and children.

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funds the Mother-Child Health in Lacor-South Sudan project, improving mother and child health by identifying high-risk pregnancies and directing them towards health institutions, as well as another project improving data and project management systems at the Lacor to convert them into a research platform.  

Donations from the Roncalli International Foundation are used to purchase equipment allowing the Lacor to provide its patients with reliable diagnoses and treatments using devices that are in good condition, and those from Groupe Maurice, to provide general care to adults and seniors.

Thank you to all the donors who have put their trust in our work. The Lacor appreciates it very much. 


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