Specialists from Greenslopes Private Hospital change women’s lives in Uganda
Mar 20, 2019
Specialists from Greenslopes Private Hospital sacrificed Christmas with their families to volunteer their time and surgical skills to women in need in Uganda.
Urogynecologists Professor Judith Goh AO, Dr Hannah Krause AO and Dr Alexandra Mowat travelled to the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains in late December to diagnose and operate on women suffering various medical conditions, including vaginal fistulas and uterovaginal prolapse.
“Patients generally can’t get access to medical care or they can’t afford to receive it, so the conditions they present with are quite extreme. They have the conditions for a long time or they come in quite unwell because they’ve not been able to get treatment,” Dr Krause said.
Dr Goh and Dr Krause have been volunteering for more than 20 years, while it was Dr Mowat’s second trip.
The trio, with support from scrub nurse Ms Melina Kreutz, treated 144 women and operated on 109 women during their two week stay in the remote region of Uganda.
Professor Goh said: “It’s amazing to see the changes they have in their outlook even within a couple of weeks. Sometimes when they first come in they are very embarrassed and won’t say very much, but once we perform the surgery a lot of them open up, they smile.”
Ugandan nurses visited local villages to identify women who needed treatment and escorted them back to the specialists.
Announcements were also made on the local radio service, which was the only other way to inform women about the visiting medical staff.
“The working conditions are actually quite tough; there’s no air conditioning in the theatre, it’s in the tropics so it’s really, really hot, and often there is no electricity. But with the opportunities I’ve been given in regard to my training and education, I think it’s just more than living a good comfortable life, it’s to try to help as many people as we can,” Professor Goh said.
The visit was part of the ‘Medical Training in Africa & Asia’ project which is managed by Professor Goh under the Health and Development Aid Abroad Charity.
Each of the team members self-fund their trips and raise money to pay for the women’s surgery, hospital stay and travel.
Greenslopes Private Hospital also donated scalpel blades, vaginal packing gauze, sterile gloves, Marcain for spinal anaesthesia, Mayo needles and theatre masks.
“Greenslopes have always been very eager to assist up in terms of providing equipment, and the theatre nurses are very good, in that they will ask us if we need equipment if anything’s decommissioned before they throw it out,” Prof Goh said.
Professor Goh and Dr Krause are also providing specialist training to six doctors in Myanmar and have just returned home from a training trip.
They are also visiting Cambodia during Easter 2019 to volunteer their services, before returning to Uganda in October.
L-R: Dr Hannah Krause, Prof Judith Goh and Dr Alexandra Mowat