Saturday, 19 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

AT the club’s lunch meeting at the Red Lion Hotel on Tuesday, members were given an illustrated talk from Dr Phillip Unwin, senior partner of the Hart Surgery, updating them on his work at the Kamuli Mission Hospital in Uganda.

Having originally worked with Dr Jim McWhirter, a member of Henley Bridge Rotary Club, at the hospital, Dr Unwin is now concentrating on providing modern facilities there, while Dr McWhirter is working throughout Uganda, installing new systems at many hospitals.

In 2012 Dr Unwin started a registered charity (Kamuli Friends) whose aims are to provide funding for building projects, some medical equipment and introducing volunteers to the hospital, both medical and nursing professionals as well as students.

On Tuesday he showed a video he had produced when he was there in May which illustrated the structural improvements made to the hospital, which opened in 1914 as two grass huts.

Dr Unwin suggested that a third of Britain’s overseas aid budget going to Uganda ended up being “misappropriated” and that was why fund-raising had been channelled through the Rotary Club of Jinja, the nearest large town, and more recently through Kamuli Friends. The next two projects for the Friends were the construction of a new paediatric ward inside the hospital site to replace the existing children’s ward, which is outside the perimeter fence, and a medical ward.

The total cost of both was expected to be in the region of £250,000.

Dr Unwin said the paediatric development would include a children’s play area and places for families to stay, where they would not be plagued by the enormous bats which have found their way into the roof space of the outdoor huts.

Other aims included providing a regular supply of oxygen and funds to buy toxins for treating snake bites.

Dr Unwin said the building projects should be completed in about 18 months and promised to keep the club updated on progress.

During questions, he revealed that the costs of running the hospital were paid roughly equally by the Ugandan government, patient fees and the Kamuli Friends. He also revealed that the maternity unit had performed 2,500 caesarean section births in a year.

Barry Prior gave the vote of thanks, congratulating the charity on building for the future.

The meeting was also attended by Jolante Lis, from the Bicester club and one of District 1090’s assistant governors, and a “scatter” visitor from the Thatcham club.

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