Medical missions bring vital relief

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TWO nurses from Berkshire have returned from missions bringing healthcare to people abroad.

Carol at work in Koh Kong.

Carol Moloney joined a medical mission to Cambodia with Mission Direct, while Sabita Clarke headed to a hospital in Uganda. Cambodia was ravaged under Pol Pot’s brutal 1970s regime and in four years about three million people – a quarter of the country’s population – died. Pol Pot was eventually overthrown but his legacy is apparent as nearly 40 per cent live in poverty. Carol, a community nurse working in Earley, travelled to Phnom Penh to run teaching courses on child health, pregnancy care, immunisation, breast feeding, and dealing with child abuse.

Mission Direct also ran a drop-in clinic in a remote village and saw 82 patients with diverse conditions including back pain, mumps, and cataracts. Medicines, toothbrushes, toothpaste and spectacles were dispensed. Carol said: “A US missionary doctor joined us and we set up camp in the shade of bamboo and palm trees on an island in the province of Koh Kong, with pigs rummaging a few feet away.”

Sabita, of Caversham, visited Kamuli hospital in central Uganda, which is run by nuns and serves a population of about 300,000. The hospital is more than 100 years old. Kamuli has about 100 beds, an operating theatre, an old x-ray machine, inadequate ultrasound equipment, and virtually no laboratory facilities.

In the past decade, volunteers have helped rebuild the maternity ward, a gynaecological ward, part of the staff accommodation, and a guest house for visiting doctors and volunteers.

Kamuli Friends was set up four years ago to encourage donations to the hospital and is now fundraising for projects to provide the hospital with solar power, rebuild paediatric and medical wards, and help the hospital raise its own funds for the long term. Rebuilding the medical and paediatric wards are a major priority and the fundraising target is £250,000. Sabita said: “We would like to try to open an art centre at the hospital to encourage visitors and visiting artists. This could become a profit-making venture to provide funds for the hospital.”