Published on 2 March 2020
A nurse will swap a children’s emergency department in east Kent for a clinic on the other side of the world as part of a charity trip overseas.
Alana Debnam will spend seven weeks working in hospitals, clinics and at outreach projects as part of the trip with Nurse Uganda.
She completed a previous visit as a student nurse but now will be returning to supervise student nurses, and said the experience would be life-changing.
The 26-year-old, who works as a paediatric emergency nurse at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, said: “You certainly realise how lucky we are in this country to have healthcare that is free to access, in clean hospitals with all the drugs and supplies we need.
“They have so few resources in Uganda. A rubber glove is not just a glove over there – it’s also used as a tourniquet and for hanging a drip bag.
“Medication is limited and conditions in the hospitals are very cramped. It’s so different and it can be quite shocking the first time you see it.”
"Patients have to pay for consultations, tests and treatment in the private clinics, and often go untreated if they cannot afford it.
Alana said: “People walk miles to go to the clinics. We saw one woman who could afford the consultation and the test, but not the treatment, so we gave her a diagnosis, and she said thank you and just walked away.
“It felt like we had handed her a death sentence; she knew what was wrong with her but she had no way of paying for the treatment that would make her better.”
But there were other opportunities to make a real difference, and the first time Alana performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on a baby was in a hospital in Hoima, a Ugandan town.
The group also supported a weekly ‘porridge clinic’ for people to receive HIV medication.
Alana said: “It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before – we built a fire and made the porridge and gave a cup of it to everyone with the medication.
“It was something so simple but you could see it was so effective. People received the medication they needed and some hot food and it could potentially save lives.”
The nurses and students pay for the trip, and part of the fee funds medication and tests for patients. It also helps fund projects working to improve the health of children living in the slums and to help them access education.
This year, Alana is also helping to fundraise to pay for a minibus to help transport the group between the various projects and clinics they support.
She said: “Transport is really expensive and if we could buy a minibus for the team to use it would mean more money could go towards the projects where it will really make a difference.
“It’s a huge honour to be able to take part in another trip with Nurse Uganda and helping raise the money for this is one way of giving something back.”
To donate to the minibus appeal visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-car-for-nurse-uganda and for more information on the charity visit nurseuganda.co.uk