In April 2018 Harry de Vries visited st.Joseph’s Hospital in Kitgum in Northern Uganda (Harry is a founding member of the Njokuti Foundation and since the beginning he has worked as an Orthopedic Surgeon in Tanzania and Uganda). Due to unforeseen family circumstances our Plastic Surgeon, Jan-Willem Kortleve, had to cancel his participation at the very last moment. The combination of plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery has been very beneficial for many of our patients but unfortunately not this time.
“The journey to Kitgum was many times faster than previous years. The new tarmac road, built with help from China, made the trip from Entebbe to Kitgum very smooth and comfortable”.
On Monday my duties started with the greeting of old friends. Of course, Michael, the orthopedic clinical officer. He can treat any fracture that does not require an operation. And Julius Obonga, the Orthopedic Surgeon who was trained at Makerere University in Kampala after four years of financial assistance by the Njokuti Foundation, thus making the patients in Kitgum less dependent on our visits.
I had the privilege to work the whole week alongside Julius and to operate together. I got a good impression of his orthopedic qualities. Of course, we treated clubfeet and corrected crooked legs. But with the well-trained Julius the more complex operations are now possible. Good to see. And especially good to see that the young and the old are now reaping the benefits!
In Northern Uganda people also become older and easily brake their hip. And a broken hip does not always regrow correctly. In the Western World nearly all hip fractures are operated upon to be able to mobilize patients as soon as possible and to have them reintegrate quickly in their daily life. They can move about, with or without special aid-appliances and therefore do not lose their independence. But in Northern Uganda there is no X-ray screening possible in the operating theatres, making the surgery of broken hips far more difficult. An X-ray screening machine in the operating theatre is a luxury that Kitgum Hospital cannot afford. But Julius has learned to treat a hip fracture without the use of an X-ray screening machine!
See the attached photographs:
The hip before operation: the dark line in the hip shows the fracture
The hip after operation: the fracture line can still be seen, but the position is perfect. On this hip the patient can walk immediately after the operation!
Julius Obonga will shortly officially qualify as an Orthopedic Surgeon with all the necessary diploma’s. During my visit I became convinced that we can entrust the orthopedic operations to Julius’ competent hands. Due to the training of Julius the orthopedic help of the Njokuti Foundation is now no longer necessary.
However, we have asked Julius and his orthopedic team for one last wish: they would be very grateful if we could help them to obtain a so-called hip set to enable them to repair more broken hips. With this item the hospital can make a great step forward. All the requirements are for sale in Kampala and at a much lower price than what we would have to pay here in Europe. The Njokuti Foundation would very much like to help them to achieve this target. This would be a wonderful fare-well present!
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