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Uganda Medical Outreach: Saving Babies at Risk

  • June 14, 2011

americares quoteWith the medicines we brought, and our volunteers’ expertise, we saved the lives of seven newborns in eight days.”— Dr. Mary ColemanIn Uganda, hospitals routinely run out of medicines and infant mortality rates are dangerously high. Pediatrician Mary Coleman and a medical team from Oakland, CA, traveled to Holy Innocents Children’s Hospital on a lifesaving mission supported by AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program.  “A five-day-old infant arrived at our hospital, weakened from anemia and a deadly septic bacterial infection that ravaged his tiny body,” explained Dr. Coleman. “He was hemorrhaging and losing blood quickly. We immediately started him on antibiotics from AmeriCares to cure the infection and gave him a blood transfusion. In just a few days he was healthy enough to return home.”Such a speedy recovery is almost unheard in Uganda, where one out of every seven children dies before his fifth birthday, and even children who reach adulthood often don’t live beyond age 50.

Many patients were hospitalized for serious infections and respiratory problems. Photo by Cassie Mannix/AmeriCares.

Photo by Cassie Mannix/AmeriCares.Many patients were hospitalized for serious infections and respiratory problems.Ugandan doctors and nurses do the best they can with what they have, but supplies are limited and hospitals are short staffed.  Even at Holy Innocents, a charity hospital funded by US donors, parents sleep by their children’s beds because there’s not enough staff or supplies to diaper and feed the children, or change and wash their clothes. Dr. Coleman’s medical volunteers arrived at Holy Innocents with seven duffel bags of pediatric medicines and supplies donated by AmeriCares, including antibiotics, pain relievers, syringes and other supplies. Previously, hospital staff were cutting adult-sized medications into pediatric doses.“With the medicines we brought, and our volunteers’ expertise, we saved the lives of seven newborns in eight days,” said Dr. Coleman. “I am thankful AmeriCares was there to provide us with the medicines and supplies we needed — we couldn’t provide such a high level of care without them.”AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program supplies medicines and medical supplies to US-based health care professionals who travel overseas to provide care to people in desperate need of help. In 2010, the program provided nearly $62 million worth of critical medicines and supplies to 1,061 teams traveling to 71 countries and also supported charitable orthopedic surgeries in the U.S.Donate Now