Week 38 – Build Finished

After 38 weeks, I am very pleased to announce that the build of the maternity theatre in Lira is now finished.

Week 38 Painting Outside

The Bush Hospital Foundation is in the process of acquiring and donating the necessary medical equipment. The value of this is likely to be about £15,000.

We are continuing discussions with a number of potential donors regarding on-going provision of funds to cover the cost of providing maternity and emergency obstetric services to local women.

You can read earlier postings about this programme by clicking here.

Helping to Improve Maternal Health in N. Uganda

Women living in Uganda face a 1 in 35 chance of dying as a result of complications during pregnancy or delivery; that’s 134 times greater than the same risk faced by those living in the UK. (WHO, 2010: 26)

At least 16 Ugandan women die each day whilst giving birth and perhaps up to 10 times that number suffer complications that significantly affect their on-going quality of life.

In the UK, 7 children are shared between 10 adult women; in Uganda each woman has, on average, 7 children.

More than 20,000 Ugandan babies are born each year infected with HIV passed from their mother.

So maybe Ugandan women should just have less children, wouldn’t that help to solve these problems? If only it was that simple. Trying to impose our Western culture or world-view on others is not the answer; we must work with those that we want to help, to provide solutions that they will find acceptable and appropriate.

Recent research shows that more than two thirds of women who want to use modern family planning are unable to get regular, sustainable access to it. (Guutmacher, 2009)

Suubi Trust is working with local health teams throughout Uganda to help resolve these issues. In Lira, Northern Uganda, it is partnering with a local faith based organisation, Charis, to implement solutions that will help to improve maternal and child health for the poor living in the local communities.

Some of the local women who will benefit from the Maternal-Child-Health services being provided at the Charis healthcentre in Lira, N. Uganda.
Click for more photos...

These include ante-natal services in which women can access the necessary treatment to help prevent mother to child transmission of HIV and receive family planning after delivery.

We are building a Maternity Theatre that will help provide safe delivery, with emergency obstetrics care, such as c-sections, as and when needed. Friends and supporters of Suubi Trust have raised the necessary funds for this and a generous donor has offered to buy all of the necessary equipment.

The theatre will be operational by September 2012 at which time we will be seeking donor support to sponsor ANC and Safe Delivery for those local women who could not otherwise access such services.

You can read more about this project by clicking here and here.

Affordability, Rationing and Aid

Over the last few weeks I’ve been reviewing the cost and affordability of our Community Based healthcare services, which are often given free or at a heavily subsidised, low cost to the patient.

During this review, it has become obvious that if we want these programmes to be sustainable then we will have to ration the services being provided and be more selective about the population being served. These have not been easy decisions to make and in many ways are very similar to those being faced by health planners in the UK and USA. I read a thought-provoking, or perhaps simply provoking, article by Peter Singer on the subject “Why We Must Ration Healthcare”; well worth a quick skim.

Affordability is a complex study; we may immediately think that this is simply about how much the patient can afford to pay, but there are many other interested and affected parties.

The actual cost of providing Primary Healthcare in these communities might be as much as £30 per person per year; those receiving care may only be able to afford £1-2 per visit, probably no more than £5-10 per year, per household. A lot has been written about the pros and cons of user fees and the need for patients to contribute at the point of receiving service. This remains a matter that divides opinion.

When we make healthcare affordable for the poor, we have to also consider the impact this has on others who are subsidising that cost. These include tax payers who contribute, and may be asked to pay more, to the government budget. Other government sectors, such as education, may be squeezed if the government increases its budget allocation to the health sector.

Donor funds and Charitable giving are not limitless and deserve to be used in the most effective and efficient manner. We need to ensure that these very necessary funds are put to best use but, because they are limited, there is a tension between use for Prevention or use for Treatment and also in the selection of the most worthy diseases. There are divided opinions about how these limited funds should be shared between e.g. Health, Education and Infrastructure.

Mothers attending baby clinic at Charis

Many health service providers serving these communities are operating from a faith or humanitarian basis and want to help serve the poor and needy. They are not doing it for profit and they depend on funds from all of the various sources: the user, the government, charitable giving and donor funds. When these funds are not enough and the sick continue to arrive at the centre, then what should the facility owner do? Do we turn them away or do we treat and dig deep into our own pockets to meet the shortfalls?

Times are hard, perhaps global economies are still getting worse, rather than better, and many in the UK are saying that it would be wrong for the Government to meet our pledge to raise overseas aid to £10.6 billion in 2014-15. Why should we persist in giving to other countries when there are so many problems at home?

The Telegraph writes that Bill Gates, when interviewed on Radio 4, urged Britons to be proud of the positive impact our donations are having on the world’s poorest people.

I agree, we should be proud and now is not a time to consider cutting back. The 0.7% of national income proposed as overseas aid impacts the lives of many millions in ways that are often life-changing.

Just in this last week new research shows that the numbers of deaths from Malaria are actually double what we had thought; now estimated at 1.24m a year. Many of these are children under 5, for whom Malaria causes 24% of all deaths.

Sophie putting IV into baby Job with severe malaria

When we discussed and agreed our proposed approach to rationing we decided to focus attention on prevention and treatments for Children under 5. We know that Malaria is a significant problem for this population and in the week we decide to ration, we now learn that the numbers of those affected may be double what we thought!

Building the Maternity Theatre in Lira: Week 13

It’s Week 13 and the team is making good progress.

The TB Lab now has its roof on and work has started on the internal structure.

Week 13 TB Lab: Click here for more pictures...


The Theatre Block is taking shape, the internal layout is now very evident and the walls are ready for the windows.

Week 13 Outside of the Theatre: click here for more pictures


Week 13 Looking into Operating Room 1: please click on image for more photos


The full picture set can be found here.

Suubi Trust Annual Returns

Since it was registered on July 2nd 2007, Suubi Trust has raised just over £200,000 to help support the work of International Medical Foundation, an NGO providing healthcare services to the financially disadvantaged in Uganda.

Our key focus at this time is raising funds to build a maternity theatre at Charis Health Centre in Lira, Northern Uganda. This is an essential project that will provide a facility from which local women will be able to access safe maternal delivery services and emergency obstetrics as required. Building works are underway; you can watch progress by clicking on the image below.

Week 07 of the Theatre Build, click on image to see more in this album.

We continue to provide funding to support treatment of cancer patients on the charity “Hope Ward” at International Hospital Kampala (IHK), Uganda. These funds help to ensure that such care and treatment is accessible to those that otherwise could not afford it.

Most of the funds raised by Suubi Trust come from individual supporters.

We are grateful to Richard and Pat who have led the fund raising for the theatre build in Lira. Rose and Becci helped to get this fund started.

Alison, her family and friends, including Helen, continue to support the work in Namuwongo that Alison was involved with during her time there as a VSO volunteer.

Kate and Caroline, to name just two, are keen supporters of the Cancer Care fund and are amongst the first to use standing orders and Give As You Earn.

Jamie, Louise, Emily, Sean and Rose helped to raise funds using Justgiving pages.

Our thanks also to church members in Hazlemere and Menorca.

All money raised by Suubi Trust is used to support the work of International Medical Foundation in Uganda. Our Trustees are volunteers and do not charge for any services or expenses. The only administration costs covered by the funds raised, and the associated gift aid, are bank charges and the cost of having the online giving facility at Justgiving.

You can review our accounts and annual returns on the Charity Commission website by clicking on the image below.


Thank you all for your kind and generous support and we wish you all a great 2012.

Jackie and Gary Raise Funds for Charis Theatre

I’ve been a bit slow in posting this one, sorry.

Jackie and Gary

Jackie and Gary are nurses working with Dr. Richard in the UK. They recently got married and instead of presents, asked their friends to give donations to Suubi Trust for the theatre build at Charis in Lira. They raised over 4 million shillings (about £1,000).

We send them our thanks and very best wishes.

We’ve Started the Build!

Over the last year we have been raising funds to help build a maternity theatre at the Charis clinic in Lira, north Uganda.

I am really pleased to announce that we have now started the build!!!

The site is being cleared and levelled, ready for the foundations.

Here’s what the site looked like before we started:

The proposed site for the theatre, where the trees are

This tree will have to be removed

and now at the end of Week 1:

Week 01 Clearing and Levelling the Site 111025


Last December I posted the photo below and an update outlining our intention to build this theatre. You can read that post by clicking on the photo or read more about our work in Lira by clicking here.

Joel, Leonard, Ian, Phil and Mike discuss the potential building of a theatre


New Life Church, Supporting Mothers in Lira

I’ve just come back from a few days in Menorca with Alan and Lyn. On Sunday I was able to give church members an update on our plans for Maternal Care at the Charis health centre in Lira. I mentioned how we are hoping to create a Safe Motherhood programme at a cost of £75 per enrolled woman. This programme will provide at least 4 ante-natal visits, treatments during pregnancy, safe delivery, post-natal care and immunisation for the baby. We hope to ensure the availability of appropriate family planning to all those that want it.

New Life Church has been collecting each week to support our work and I was very pleased to be there in person to receive their latest donation of £500.

Receiving a cheque for £500 from Alan at New Life Church


Click here to read about their previous donation, referred to as “Scooby-Doo Money”.