Nicci Maxwell, Uganda

Nicci Maxwell, Uganda

Providing paediatric and neonatal medical care to the community, and providing training, mentorship and support to local healthcare workers.

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I was born and grew up in South Africa and trained as a doctor. I then moved to the UK, but nearly 20 years later and with almost a decade spent working as a consultant in neonatal medicine within the NHS, I returned to Africa on a short term placement with Church Mission Society to Potter’s Village, a small medical centre that rescues and looks after babies and children who have no other chance of survival in Kisoro, Uganda. During this time I felt the strong calling, which had first begun in my teenage years, to work in “mission medicine”.

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Nicci’s story

Potter’s Village provides inpatient and outpatient medical care for children under the age of 12, including care for severely malnourished children and for newborn and premature babies within a small special care baby unit. It also helps with psychological care, education and parenting skills, support for families, spiritual and social care and future support when a child leaves Potter’s Village. There is also a child crisis centre, providing residential care for babies who have been abandoned or whose mothers have died in childbirth.

I provide medical care to newborns and older children both in the ward and as outpatients. On my previous visit, I was involved in the establishment of a new clinic service for disabled children. I also help train local healthcare staff, at both Potter’s Village and the local government hospital, in basic newborn care and resuscitation.

I am now continuing this work and offering support and education to the parents and families of disabled children. I am also supporting local midwifery staff in their care for bereaved parents and overseeing the training of healthcare workers in order to improve medical care for babies and children across the whole district. Kisoro is a very poor area, struggling with the challenges of AIDS, malaria, and refugees from DR Congo and Rwanda. Sixteen women in Uganda die every day as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, so this area of medicine is vitally needed. Another significant area of need is for much greater support for the families of disabled children, a particularly marginalised and vulnerable group within the community.

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