Archive for the 'IHK & ReachOut' Category

Grania: All Good Things

I kind of knew that our month in Uganda would pass quickly, but I didn’t think it would go quite as fast as it has. Just as I was getting back into the way of things, the time had come to pack up and go home again.

What have I gained from this brief time back in Uganda?

Seeing the TB project has been the highlight. Watching Dr Edith and Bosco using the new laboratory technology to benefit patients has been a lesson in teamwork and enthusiasm. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are lots of buzzwords in the development industry – capacity-building, facilitating, enabling – and the TB project has used all of them. I can honestly say it has achieved everything it set out to, and with luck the problems it does have can be resolved with Deborah (the TB nurse) going full-time. This will lighten the workload for Dr Edith and ensure that the TB service is fully integrated with the Touch Namuwongo HIV-AIDS programme.

For too long HIV and TB, so deadly together, have been treated as totally separate entities. TB services have been grossly underfunded, while HIV-AIDS programmes have been given access to huge quantities of donor funding. TB is an unglamorous and old-fashioned illness. Until fairly recently, most people hoped that it would simply fade away. But due to HIV (and the medical profession taking its eye off the ball) it is making a comeback and becoming a major health issue once again: 1.7million people a year now die from TB, 98% of these in the developing world. By piggybacking the TB project onto the well-resourced HIV programme, we hope to ensure that TB in the Namuwongo area no longer kills.

The TB project has tried to address two of the major issues with TB control – the challenge of diagnosis, especially in HIV-positive patients, and the importance of education, both on the symptoms (so that patients can come forward earlier for diagnosis) and on the treatment regime itself. The plan now is to improve the project’s efficiency in Namuwongo so that the template can be rolled-out in similar urban slum areas. Hopefully, other NGOs (and even perhaps the national TB programme) can come and use some, if not all, of the ideas behind the TB project. We have even given it a new name, TB Free Namuwongo, which encompasses the two principals of free treatment for everyone and the overall aim of making an area TB-free!

It has been fantastic to catch up with old friends, albeit briefly. I have even met my namesake – Bosco has had a little girl since we left who he has named Grania, in my honour. It was lovely meeting her and her mother Peninah – little baby Grania was angelically behaved.

I have also enjoyed returning to work after seven months of maternity leave. I think it has been made easier with the lovely African weather, fantastic childcare (Stella and Alice quickly became the best of friends) and home help that ensured I came home from work to a house that was spotless, with the washing and ironing done and a smiley happy baby waiting for me. In that respect it’s probably a good thing that we have come home as I was getting far too used to it…

So what next for family Brigden? As I sit here in a cold, dark and rainy London, I can’t help but think that this isn’t the end of our adventures. Alice has adapted to the travelling life like a pro (how could we doubt her?) and as much as Dan is a Londoner born and bred, I think flipsidecoin will be back, who knows where or when.

Hot countries with a good internet connection and a TB problem, watch out!