Spiritans + Brother's Brother Foundation + Duquesne = Medical Supplies in Africa
A hand-cranked delivery table doesn't seem like a wondrous gift-unless you are among the women of Uganda. Where the nation's birth rate is the second highest in the world, less than half of the women deliver their babies in hospitals-and then, it could be on a wooden table or a mat on the floor. Every 24 hours, 16 Ugandan women die in childbirth, BusinessWeek reports; the statistic is so alarming that activists are lobbying to label deaths during childbirth as civil rights violations.
Electricity can be so unreliable in Uganda that Brother's Brother Foundation President Luke Hingson speaks of a Cesarean section being performed by the light of a cell phone.
Over the next couple months, the Spiritan congregation, which has a base at Duquesne University and a province in Uganda, will work with the Brother's Brother Foundation to improve conditions in Ugandan hospitals.
The Rev. Gerard Nnamunga, C.S.Sp., the Spiritan provincial in Uganda as well as a doctoral theology student at Duquesne, has helped to make the connection between Brother's Brother and the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau, an affiliation of 30-plus hospitals delivering more than 300,000 babies a year. The Rev. Festo Adrabo, C.S.Sp., a Spiritan who is coordinator of pastoral care for Uganda and a Duquesne graduate, is able to connect Brother's Brother with the existing system. And the Spiritan ministry in Uganda is attached to a 1,800-bed hospital in Kampala, the capital city.
"In Uganda, we went from no connection to a national network with Fr. Gerard and Fr. Festo," Hingson said.
The request from Uganda totals 19 delivery tables, 10 surgical tables, eight anesthesia machines, 190 beds and mattresses, 70 wheelchairs, plus consumables such as gauze, tubing, gloves, face masks and scrubs. Brother's Brother and the Spiritans will coordinate locating and moving these high-priority items in a container that amounts to an ocean-going tractor-trailer. Shipping alone is a $10,000 to $15,000 proposition-but the value of the supplies is priceless.
"Someone will benefit from everything in the container," said Nnamunga. "Because of our interest in human life, this is one of our priorities; it's part of our ministry."
This latest Spiritan, Duquesne and Brother's Brother initiative builds upon a relationship that connected medical supplies and books with people in Tanzania last year. Before year's end, the organizations hope to share more supplies with Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana-all countries with a prominent Spiritan presence.
"The introductions that the University gave us provided credibility," said Liam Carstens, the foundation's vice president of medical programs and strategic initiatives-and a double Duquesne graduate. "What Duquesne brought was essential."