Glimmers of hope at Gahini

Catriona and Steve Bennett share news of encouraging developments in training and facilities at Gahini Hospital, Rwanda.

Steve is a consultant general surgeon and Catriona is a consultant anaesthetist, both from the UK. They now work at Gahini Hospital in Eastern Rwanda where their mission is to provide a surgical and anaesthetic service, develop the hospital’s facilities and train local healthcare staff. This is an excerpt from their most recent update.

So much has changed in the hospital in the last six months it has completely blown us away! When we first arrived here it was our aim to do ourselves out of a job within five years, hoping that we would be replaced by Rwandan staff. For so long this seemed completely unachievable, but in the last three months we have begun to see glimmers of hope.

In December Gahini appointed its first full-time Rwandan specialists, two orthopaedic surgeons. Gahini has long been a centre for physical rehabilitation and part of that work is corrective orthopaedic surgery. In April last year a new rehabilitation centre was opened along with a brand new three theatre orthopaedic operating suite. This was to accommodate the part-time work of Dr Nsengiyumva, who specialises in paediatric orthopaedic surgery for conditions such as clubfoot. It was a vision for the future. So when a hospital in Kibungo did not have the theatre space or equipment for these two orthopaedic specialists, Gahini hospital was all set up ready to appoint them. Through their work we are now the referral hospital for orthopaedics for Eastern Rwanda!

With more surgeons we urgently needed more anaesthetists. So we have been fortunate to appoint two new non-physician anaesthetists. Both seem very keen to take on the busy schedule and many paediatric cases here, which has meant that, with a bit of extra training from Catriona, they have fitted in very well. The government has promised us a Rwandan anaesthesiologist (doctor anaesthetist) in the next round of specialist appointments, so we hope and pray this will come to fruition.

In the meantime, the University of Rwanda has appointed Steve as an Associate Dean. He is now responsible for the education of groups of four newly qualified doctors who are here for a month at a time to undertake a surgical placement to prepare them for general practice. These are the first medical doctors in training to come to Gahini and we pray that eventually we may also be able to take residents here.

Recently we have been very blessed with some significant donations and a successful grant application, which is enabling us to refurbish our surgical wards. The general surgical ward is finished; a lighter, brighter and more open ward compared to its former self. Male and female patients now have their own areas and Steve is working on equipping a higher care area for patients who are immediately post-op. Similar work on the orthopaedic ward is due to start next week. Please give thanks to the Lord for all his provision.

Find out more about Catriona and Steve’s work.

Published 27 February 2020

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