Uganda

“I started anaesthesia in 1968 – I’m old enough to remember giving it before oximetry. And in poor countries, people were dying from hypoxia before we noticed, particularly people with dark skin. So when the oximeter came, we knew we couldn’t do without it.”

– Ray Towey, Uganda

Lifebox group week 1_Mbarara_2011_UgandaAnaesthesia providers in Uganda lack access to almost everything that we take for granted in high-resource setting practice: basic drugs, monitoring equipment, support staff, continuous learning.

And every week they treat a nightmare caseload: ruptured uteruses, road traffic accidents, severe burns.  Ambulances bump across 60 kilometers of potholed road, stiff blankets and stretchers are carried on foot across the mountains, patients stumble in on foot, requiring urgent surgical attention at all hours.

That’s why we’re thrilled to show that our work is making a difference – support for colleagues on the front line, striving to deliver safer anaesthesia and safer surgery is desperately needed.

Since our first major workshop and donation in association with the Uganda Society of Anaesthesia and the Association of Anaesthetists in Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI), we’ve distributed more than 300 additional oximeters and training across Uganda.

Uganda is where we sent our first oximeter.

Where we met Pauline, weeks from delivering her first baby but refusing to miss this training opportunity.

Where Christine explained in just a few words why the WHO Checklist includes a swab count.

It’s also where we gathered evidence to publish ‘Evaluation of a large-scale donation of Lifebox pulse oximeters to non-physician anaesthetists in Uganda‘ in the journal Anaesthesia.  The paper shows that when oximeters are donated to operating rooms they stay where they are needed – and when providers are trained they don’t forget.