Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

UNICEF Family Health day in Fort portal, Uganda

One of the rewarding experiences of our Uganda trip was to meet with the families in rural areas that were so similar to my own country of Mexico.  Practicing nursing here and in Mexico is incredibly alike.   My favorite memories were the visits to the Family Health days in Mumbende, Karabole and Fort Portal.
I felt like I went back in time; Different country, same images. I was delighted to have the opportunity to talk with families and patients when they were waiting in line.  I enjoyed talking and reminiscing about my nursing time with Sheila Tumuhairkie, a nursing student in charge of taking the blood pressure in Fort Portal.   I was ecstatic when she asked if I wanted to help. Oh how I had been secretly wishing for this!  We had a long line before us and only one person to do the job, but now with two, we divided the job to finish the task:  she would ask the patients for their personal information in their native language and write it down in the log and I would take the blood pressure of each patient and give the numbers to Sheila to write.   I was pleasantly surprised when some of the patients spoke English and as soon I started to put the cuffs in their arms I would say “thank you for coming today” and ask if they have had any health concerns.  I received many smiles and even more stories. 
Sheila Tumuhairkie and I at blood pressure station
An old grandma told me about her feet and hands swelling every day and how painful it was for her to move.  A quick glance towards her hands and I could see the signs of arthritis.   So I told Sheila and she made her a referral to the clinic.  Next I met George Sabiiti, a 74 years old sweet man with a big smile.  I started talking to him and I found out that he had been coughing blood for the last 2 months, when I asked if he went to the clinic, he said yes and that they told him he had bronchitis. The cough with blood never went away and this morning he was coughing blood again.  I saw many cases of TB in my own country and I know that you don’t want take any chances. I talked to the nurse and they immediately referred him to the doctor.   Jocinta Limbigamba, a 40 year old female was feeling dizzy and had a big headache which we learned was because she was diabetic and had not been taking any medication.  Face after face was another story of struggles with illness that are very easy to prevent with vaccines or even more basic services like doctors’ visits.

Photo credit: Stephanie Geddes
In Mexico we called it Preventive Medicine; here we called it Family Health Days.  Time is a precious resource for Ugandans so UNICEF created Family Health Days to provide the basic services to the underserved districts of Uganda four times at year (January, April, July and October) with the hope to reach 80% off the people.  So far in my eyes they have been very successful.

I always have been a huge advocate for education, diversity and inclusion for minority groups, a sympathizer for those in poverty or with health issues, and a woman of action in addressing the needs of others. I can’t help but look back on the days I spent in Uganda with such feelings of warmth. ­­­The Ugandan people’s courage and resilience and the children’s smiles and gratitude taught me greatly of the human triumphant and the power of kindness; a little charity can yield such progress and beneficence. Shot@life and UNICEF are raising awareness and increasing the resources available to people everywhere in order to help immunize children in Uganda and other developing countries, to fight against vaccines preventable diseases (measles, polio, pneumonia and rotavirus). They are the causes I believe most in and pride myself in saying I am a part of.

Shot@life resonates with me and should resonate with everybody; especially, for those who care about human life.  I have been supporting, advocating and championing United Nation Foundation Shot@life vaccination campaign because I believe in their mission and goals and have firsthand the vaccines saves lives.

Baby Taqia with me and Mom, Nakyanzy Saidah
 It is incredible how just a few dollars can make the difference between life and death.
  •   $5.00 Protect a child from polio and measles for his lifetime.
  • $15.00 Pay for vaccines to protect a child from the two most deadly diseases –       pneumonia and diarrhea.
  • $20.00 Give a child a lifetime of immunity to protect her from pneumonia, diarrhea, polio and measles.
Every year 8 million children under five years of years die from common diseases.  Together we can change the statistics and make sure no more children die every 20 seconds!