Greetings from Uganda. You may have been seeing something of this beautiful country on the news recently as it has just hosted CHOGM and the Queen!!! For the uninitiated, this is the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and was opened by Queen Elizabeth who was accompanied by Prince Philip, and Prince Charles. Dr Anne Merriman was invited the meet the Queen and here she is dressed in her African finery with her MBE medal! Not to be outdone; wee Mary, whose Mum works at Dr Anne's shows off her Scottish teeshirt too!There has been great excitement here as it was 1954 when the Queen last visited and a beautiful wildlife area named after her; Queen Elizabeth park. Uganda is hoping many will want to come in the wake of the Queen and I can add my wee mention that the 'Pearl of Africa' is well worth a visit.
The downside was endless motorcades, roads closed and work grinding to a halt!!! Despite these challenges I have been able to meet many of the people involved in the project here in Kampala. I am in discussion about Cairdeas supporting the development of a Palliative Care Unit within the Department of Internal Medicine at Mulago Hospital and Makerere University. Mulago is the main teaching hospital and also hosts the cancer institute for Uganda and the infectious diseases center. It is the major university teaching hospital in Kampala and Uganda; and there is huge need for palliative care for the many patients and families who pass through the doors. There is an existing nurse team but little medical support. We also need to support training, research and to raise the profile of palliative care throughout the university and hospital. I will tell you more of the hospital and it's needs in a later BLOG and introduce you to some people there. I have been very encouraged by the willingness of so many to meet, plan and offer support for a Palliative Care Unit; including colleagues such as the Dean of the Medical school, Head of Internal Medicine, Ministry of Health officials and Hospice Africa Uganda staff. You can see some of the Ministry colleagues on a visit to HAU; and they have consistently supported palliative care in Uganda. It was the first country to list palliative care as an essential clinical service and to approve training for morphine nurse prescribers.
All in all this is an exciting project and we hope to have some definite plans in place soon with a possible start date of June 2008. If you want to support this please let us know as adequate funding will be a crucial factor in making dreams a reality.
Lastly, here is a photo taken by a friend and Cairdeas supporter, John Daniels, of Lake Albert. So beautiful!!