NEWS FROM LACOR HOSPITAL – SPRING 2020
Professor Christopher Sarlo, a Canadian economist and senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, argues that the minimum level of an individual’s “basic needs” includes food, shelter, clothing, health care, personal care, essential furnishings, transportation, communication, laundry, and home insurance; his list assumes that education is provided freely to all residents of Canada.
If these are the services every person needs in order to survive, just think of what it takes for us to thrive. What do we need to build a healthy society, filled with people who are able to meet their own needs and innovate for their communities?
It is in our personal interest that every human being on our planet does well, including the people who live on or below the poverty line in Canada and other parts of the world.
The more people who thrive in the world, the more minds there are to work on solving our most difficult challenges, like the ongoing concerns of cancer. Imagine a world where our full population—over seven billion people—enjoyed the same level of basic needs, rather than the one billion people who are currently able to pay for health and education experiences. There would definitely be more innovation in this world. Perhaps we would even have found the cure for cancer by now. More heads are better than one.
All causes are good if directed with this spirit of cooperation in mind.
Located in Northern Uganda, Lacor Hospital takes up the cause of fighting against global poverty by improving health care. This season, we bring you two stories of how Lacor seeks to improve the lives of people in its region, and what we have to celebrate from the last fiscal year’s overall achievements.
Finally, we want to extend our best wishes during the global health crisis presented by COVID-19. We hope you are staying healthy in body and mind while we all cope as individuals and as a collective to keep the most vulnerable members of our community safe. Although the pandemic is distressing in many ways, it also serves as a wonderful reminder of the importance of our health care systems, and the incredible changes that can be achieved through unity and support.
21-year-old Aisha has high praise for Lacor Hospital. She tells us: “The doctors at Lacor Hospital saved my life! I was rotting inside, but the doctors at Lacor operated on me, treated me and now I feel better and I’m ready to go home.”
It took five months to diagnose Aisha and bring her health back to normal. It all started in September 2019, when Aisha was brought to one of the hospitals on the Kampala-to-Gulu highway. In this hospital, Aisha developed complications and had a stillbirth through a caesarean section. After such a difficult delivery, her conditioned worsened every day over the following three weeks of hospitalization. The concerned health workers made a decision to transfer Aisha to Lacor Hospital.
At her arrival, Lacor’s doctors quickly intervened and had Aisha undergo a second operation, but once this was complete, she noticed that she couldn’t control her urine flow. She had developed a fistula. The doctors advised that since she was too weak, she needed three months to recover before another assessment could be done on how to manage the fistula. This January, she was re-admitted for a third operation. This time, the operation was aimed at repairing the fistula.
After three weeks at Lacor, Aisha feels ready to go home and start living a normal life again. She is only waiting for the final word from the doctor.
According to Dr. Odong Emintone, the Medical Director and Senior Consultant Gynaecologist at Lacor Hospital, Aisha is one of the many young women who present to the hospital with complications related to pregnancy. These include complications from stillbirths, caesarean deliveries gone wrong at other facilities, incomplete abortions, and many others.
Dr. Odong says addressing accessibility issues and ignorance is key to managing issues related to maternal health. “We need a multi-sectoral approach. The roads, proper and functional health facilities need to be there, as well as the means of transporting people to these facilities,” says Dr. Odong. He adds that the local leaders as well as the community need to be sensitized and educated on danger signs in women. “We just need everybody involved in maternal health issues,” Dr. Odong concluded.
These are challenges that face many developing nations, including Uganda. Health infrastructure requires building multi-pronged approaches. Lacor Hospital treats almost 130,000 women and mothers each year, and it is committed to increasing that number by helping to ensure access and raise awareness. Like Aisha, all women deserve the safest, most up-to-date medical care possible.
As the large gate closes behind it, an ambulance with a red and blue logo makes its way through the colourful markets, then bears left towards where the asphalt turns to compacted red earth. The vehicle is Lacor in motion, with its personnel and its cargo of experience and medicine, reaching out to people in their own communities. This is just one way that Lacor exists beyond its own gates—as an integral part of life in Northern Uganda.
One evening, Lacor nurses Emmy and Dennis go with their team to villages in the region in order to conduct an HIV test called “Moonlight Test and Treat.” The excursion hopes to draw the menfolk, who are more comfortable presenting themselves for a test under cover of darkness. Having explained the reason for their visit, Emmy and Dennis set up benches and arrange their box of tests. A counsellor explains why the men should take the test, then a technician takes a drop of blood. Soon afterwards, another counsellor reveals the results in a discreet corner. If it is negative, s/he explains how to prevent the virus; if it is positive, therapy is immediately offered. The hard work put into this intervention is undertaken in the hopes of saving lives from the HIV virus, which still affects 6% of Uganda’s population. This number marks a big success: in 1993, almost a third of Uganda was HIV-positive.
In addition to its laboratory-on-wheels, Lacor also reaches out to the community every day with the help of its smaller health centres, which are closer to the people. The presence of midwives, a basic laboratory, and essential medicines provide responses to the most widespread needs, and allow local people to make visits to facilities without travelling distances that can seem impossible without easy transport. The facilities also help raise local awareness about health care issues, spreading information about prevention and treatment.
There is still great poverty in Northern Uganda, especially in the villages hidden in the elephant grass. This is where people catch and die from diseases that are easily treated in the West: infections that merely require antibiotics to save a life, or malaria, which can be cured if tackled immediately with proper therapy.
The Lacor Hospital complex includes the main hospital and three health centres: Amuru and Pabo in Amuru district and Opit in Omoro district. The distance of the health centres from the Hospital is between 30 and 40km. The catchment area of the hospital includes the Districts of Gulu, Amuru, and Omoro, for a total population of 634,249.
270,000 people. Lacor Hospital spreads its arms to welcome those seeking assistance and care. It is with great pleasure that we share Lacor’s achievements of the last fiscal year (2018-2019) with all of you who support the hospital through the Teasdale-Corti Foundation.
Of those 270,000 people who visited the hospital last year, 45,000 needed hospitalization in one of the 554 beds at Lacor or at one of its peripheral health centres. Most of the patients who asked Lacor’s doctors, midwives, and nurses for help are children under six years old.
At Lacor, motherhood is always at the centre of activities. With 9,700 births, including over 1,800 caesarean sections, the hospital confirms itself as a fundamental point of reference for Northern Uganda, in particular for emergencies and more complicated cases.
Furthermore, the demand of the population in local communities is growing, which underlines the importance of getting closer to the people living in rural areas. In total, almost one hundred thousand people were welcomed, observed, and treated in the centres of Amuru, Pabbo, and Opit. This high achievement marks a remarkable intervention in local health care.
Lacor also remains committed to training a future generation of health care providers. Within the hospital compounds, schools educate students from all over the country. Last year, 139 midwives and 248 nurses studied in Lacor’s schools, as well as anesthesia and laboratory technicians and operating room assistants. In total, considering the doctors, pharmacists, trainees, and external students at the Faculty of Medicine of Gulu, Lacor trained 762 students.
The cost for all this to work was 7 million CAD. By continuing to support us, you are helping Lacor to treat everyone, including the most vulnerable members of Northern Uganda’s population.