Every September UCLA doctors, nurses, and volunteers with Medicine for Humanity (MFH) travel to Mbarara,Uganda, for a two week medical-surgical “camp” where they perform life-changing fistula surgery on women in need. Dr. Chris Tarney, UCLA’s Chief in Female Pelvic Medicine, shares his extensive knowledge of the latest procedures with doctors who travel many miles to learn from him at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, a teaching hospital in Southwest Uganda.
According to Dr. Tarney: The healthcare situation for women and infants in Uganda is dire. As a result nearly 2,000 women each year in Uganda develop an obstetrical fistula, a devastating injury to the birth canal causing constant urinary or fecal soiling. It is currently estimated that 200,000 Ugandan women are still living and suffering from this condition. Many factors contributed to our decision to refocus Medicine for Humanity’s work to just one country. Our current goal is to reduce the societal burden of fistula in this part of the world. We offer a surgical cure one woman at a time. We provide surgery, transportation, housing food, medical support, and postoperative care free of charge. More importantly we are building capacity, through our medical training we can have a larger impact on a new generation of Ugandan doctors.
This is the third year Dollies Making A Difference has sent Dollies and Teddy Bears with Dr. Tarney and his group. Pooja Parameshwar is a medical student at UCLA who traveled this year to Uganda and shares these reflections:
“This year, we had two pediatric patients. One of the girls had to have a procedure done under anesthesia, and all of us on the MFH team saw the impact that her dollie had on her sense of wellbeing and comfort during the procedure. It was surreal to see her laughing in the Operating Room as we showed her her dollie’s heart, as she pointed to her own. One of the nurses on our team, Anna, put a little piece of tape on the dollie’s hand to mimic the piece of tape that the patient had on her own hand for her IV.