How we ended up working at Kiwoko Hospital
When people asked me where I was going next after my previous rotation as a GP trainee, they didn’t expect the answer to be Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda. I would have to explain that I was taking some time out of training to work in a place very different to the NHS.
The journey started several years previously. I had always been interested in global health and so, even before officially starting on the GP training programme, I had signed up to be a global health fellow. This is a programme run by Health Education England (the organisation responsible for doctors training in England) and was linking doctors to work in rural hospitals in South Africa at the time. As with many things, COVID stopped the programme from running for a couple of years but it was restarted with the option to volunteer in hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa. Having been to Uganda previously for my elective, I looked into Kiwoko as one of many options approved by Health Education England, and after much thought and prayer it seemed to be the right place for me to go.
During this journey I met and started dating Ben, and when we were deciding to get married it became clear that God also wanted him to come with me. Although the scheme was not technically aimed at his training programme (he is a medical registrar), a quick email and plenty of prayers opened the door for him to join.
So, in February 2023 we packed all our things into storage and got on a plane to Uganda. It has certainly been an adventure so far and we look forward to writing more blogs on what we see and learn whilst we are here. We hope that as pioneers for the global fellowship programme in Kiwoko we can be the first of many UK trainees who come to volunteer here for 6-month placements.
Day in the life of a Doctor Volunteering in Kiwoko
8am: Every day we start with devotions in chapel where we worship together, hear a talk which is normally from one of the hospital staff members and have announcements on what is happening in the community. Today is one of the students birthdays so we sing happy birthday, pray for them, and in Ugandan tradition threaten to shower them with water.
9am: The doctors all gather first thing in the morning to handover admissions from the night before to the day team for that area. We follow this handover with teaching, which today is on Hernias which is provided by Stephen one of the surgical volunteers.
10am: Start the medical ward round on the female medical ward. We are lucky to have lots of students who are eager and willing to learn both from Kiwoko Hospital’s own nursing school and from medical schools around the world who have come for their electives. Amongst other cases we see a lady with probable TB meningitis but requires further tests, manage a seizure during the round, see a lady with severe anaemia of unknown cause who is having blood transfusions and a lady with parkinsons with a new severe pneumonia.
2pm: Having finished the requests and discharge paperwork after my round I head home for my lunch break. Not everyone takes quite as long with their round but I find that whilst using translaters it can take me a while.
3pm: I go back to the ward to check on the results of some of the tests that I have ordered and to make sure that all my patients that need x-rays get taken before 5pm when the radiographer goes home. We have access to ultrasound out of hours but not x-ray. Whilst I am there I am informed that we have a new patient. She has symptoms of a stroke but it is impossible to tell clinically whether her symptoms are due to a bleed or a clot. I check her glucose level is normal and give her some pain relief before referring to Kampala for a CT scan of her head.
5pm: This is the end of the working day so I stop off at the lab to collect the remaining blood test results which I haven’t seen. After I have tied up loose ends it is the on-call doctor’s job to see all the new admissions overnight.
I quickly head to the market to pick up some vegetables I need for cooking dinner conveniently located just outside the hospital gates.
7:30pm: After having dinner I head out to meet with the other leaders of our Christianity Explored group. We like to prepare before we meet with the nursing students the following night to run through the bible study and talk.