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Chairman's Report

In October, fellow trustee, Martin Worster, and I visited Uganda to see how the Kyambogo University Biomedical Engineering course was progressing, as well as taking the opportunity to visit a couple of hospitals and Makerere University. We were visiting for just 3 days and so had to pack in as much as possible including an evening party for past and present students. We have been supporting the Kyambogo course for 3 years and we are now at a point where the University has to start establishing up plans to make the course sustainable; this includes agreeing to employ their own Medical Engineering lecturers, possibly sourced from the students. This will involve providing more training for the students, including enrolling them in a degree course, and there is the possibility that a qualified tutor could be encouraged to take a post at the University although the University would first have to make the post available and agree to fund it. Unfortunately we could not get a meeting with the Vice Chancellor but did have a positive meeting with Godfrey Tumwesigye, the Director of Human Resources who was deputising for him. Much was discussed and the Trust will await the implementation of this meeting’s outputs with interest. The hard work of John Okuonzi on behalf of the Biomedical Engineering course was also noted. We had another meeting on Wednesday, this time with Professor Charles Ibingira, Dean of Makerere University’s School of Biomedical Sciences. Charles has been running a degree course for engineers for 2 years but, unlike Kyambogo, they do not have the facilities to provide practical experience for students. We are looking forward to working with Charles to help establish some additional training facilities at Makerere. On Wednesday night we held a drinks party for past and present students. Seeing the students and listening to the graduates’ success stories was very heartening as all the postgrad students were gainfully employed. In fact, the previous day I had taken a call from the Director of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital singing the praises of one of our past students, Racheal Musasizi. He said that she had worked miracles repairing equipment: she had started an equipment inventory and instigated training sessions for nurses on the correct use of equipment. Such reports justify the hard work of the volunteers as well as John and Steven. The following day we were able to visit the CoRSU hospital on the Entebbe Road. This is a charity hospital which treats some of the most challenging injuries from terrible burns to cleft palate surgery. I was fortunate to visit the hospital soon after it was built 4 years ago and so returning was fascinating. It is gaining such a high reputation for plastic surgery and limb reconstruction that patients are being referred from neighbouring countries. The new CEO of the hospital, Mr. Malcolm Simpson, is interested in employing one of our graduates and building a centre of excellence for equipment maintenance which would mean the hospital could supplement its income by repairing and maintaining equipment for neighbouring hospitals and clinics. We look forward to exploring the possibilities of establishing a workshop at CoRSU and working to develop its facilities. As usual, everyone we met in Uganda was very friendly and made both Martin and I very welcome. Our special thanks go to George Kinyera-Apuke the owner of the guest house (Amalthea HQ!), for his cheerful hospitality, John Okuonzi, and Sarah and Andrew Hodges from CoRSU. Both Martin and I found it a very useful trip which has given us plenty of ideas for the future and reinforced our commitment to improving the standard of medical engineering in Africa. - Mike Hilditch, Chairman

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