Project Stories:

Each day is a new challenge, but also a gain

Report from one of our doctors in Uganda

by Dr. Ulrike Knödler und Heike Knauff-Oliver

For the third time Dr. Ulrike Knödler has taken part in a humedica intervention in the Mutolere Hospital in the South-West of Uganda. Her impressive report provides an insight in her personal impressions and experiences. She writes: „It felt like coming home. I saw many familiar faces: the clinic head, the employees working for the longstanding medical administration, the nuns and the nurses. Looking and listening closely, grasping the essentials in order make the right diagnosis, this is something I have learnt here. As a practitioner, I had nearly forgotten about this in times of equipment-based medicine and scarce limited talk times.

The lively ambience of the hospital. Photo: humedica

The Mutolere Hospital is financed nearly exclusively by donations. humedica, too, supports the clinic since several years. Patients also have to pay small fees. The medicaments, which they often need urgently, are frequently quite expensive and sometimes also out of stock. Then family members have to fetch them in Kampala, which is about 550km away. Many patients can not even afford small contributions and therefore avoid further treatment, which has particularly fatal consequences for tuberculosis cases. At least HIV therapies are nationally subsidized. The medical training in Uganda qualifies each doctor to work in every field: internal, paediatric, gynaecological, orthopaedic as well as surgical.

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Mutolere is an enchanted place in the North-East of Kisoro near the widely visible Virunga volcanic cones. A rural settlement with small banana plantations, eucalyptus groves, guava, wild growing physalis as well as delicious acidulous tree tomatoes. The main food is Katogo, made from green banana, peanut sauce and green herbs. The tasty and filling hotpot is traditionally eaten with the fingers.

Dr. Ulrike Knödler during one of her up to now three interventions in Uganda. Photo: humedica

Each new day was a challenge, but also a gain, even so I was already familiar with the locations, the customs and also some figures of speech of the local vernacular. Here not only exact English documentation is important, but conversation as well. The inquisitive nursing students, who accompany the visite, do not only want to translate into tribal language, they also want to bombard the doctor with questions. There is also a lot of laughter and joking going on.

The rainy season, which starts about the middle of August, brings many patients with fever, malaria and pulmonary tuberculosis to the clinic. As a consequence of HIV infections we also have to deal with respiratory diseases, liver cirrhosis, chronicle cardiac insufficiency and rheumatic fever. For the first time in my live I had a case of tetanus. I had to consult Dr. Joseph to discuss the diagnosis and the treatment. The approximately 50-year-old patient died even so we administered him immunoglobulin

To act wisely may also mean in Mutolere that „all is in the hands of God“. Apropos, you should not miss Sunday mass in the chapel on the clinic premises. Pater Kamari is a servant of God you can touch. He preaches powerfully eloquent in English and Rufumbira. In the services fervent chanting and tribal dances take place. Pater Kamari also walks through the hospital wards praying and blessing. At sunset the members of the patient´s families intone the evening prayer. Two years ago, they also lighted oil lamps. In the meantime, these have been replaced by halogen lamps.
I sincerely hope I could make your mouth water a bit. An engagement is worthwhile. One thing is certain – I will return."

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