September 12, 2019

Knowledge4Change meets Legs4Africa: My Placement in Uganda

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This year we’ve been lucky enough to meet a fantastic group of prosthetics and orthotics students from Salford University who took a delivery of prosthetic components along with them on their placement to Uganda, where they worked with local hospitals and training schools and got to experience the journey of a case of Legs4Africa components all the way to assembly and fitting. Thank you Alex, Abby, Ahri, Chris and Matt for your generosity and hard work!

Alex shared her story with us:

We travelled to Uganda as part of a Prosthetics placement with Knowledge for Change, a charity who focus on promoting sustainable developments in healthcare in Uganda. Our aim was to participate in a mutual exchange of knowledge; to develop our prosthetic and clinical skills to support our studies at Salford University. We met the Legs4Africa team a couple of times over the months beforehand, at a conference and at a Limbpower activity day, and realised the potential for taking some legs with us.

Communicating via email with Margherita was easy and pleasant, and we soon organised two suitcases of component parts to take with us on our trip. I picked these up from Bristol, and the next week we left for Kampala! We were lucky enough to have a large luggage allowance, and with 5 of us travelling together, we were able to take about 45kg of components.

Sadly there wasn’t room in a suitcase for Fizz!

Whilst in Uganda we visited 2 different hospitals who work with amputees in different areas of the country, and a children’s rehabilitation centre. It was inspiring to see the amazing work they do with such limited supplies, and how resourceful clinicians can be in this situation! In Uganda there is no free healthcare system like the NHS in the UK, and prosthetics can be extremely costly especially in comparison to the average Ugandan wage. The donated components from Legs4Africa enable people who cannot afford these a chance to become mobile again, and often return to work to earn a wage to support their families- this independence is so highly valued, and the people we spoke to who benefited from the donations are so grateful.

As Prosthetics and Orthotics students, part of our placement was focused around working with the clinicians in Uganda to build limbs for the patients we saw, and so in conjunction with some supplies donated from the university and some locally available materials, we were able to use the components we transported to create bespoke prosthetic legs for the patients. It was so rewarding to be able to be a part of the process right up to the delivery of the leg to the user, and really get to chat with the people who gain so much from these donations.

As well as working with the local clinicians, we also got to spend time sharing experiences with the students at the School of Orthopedic Technology in Mulago Hospital, which is the only place in Uganda that trains Orthopedic Technologists. The parts from Legs4Africa are able to be used as a teaching tool for the students to gain first hand experience, before they get to the patient as the end user, which is invaluable to their education and definitely something we take for granted in the UK.

The whole process is so easy, and really does have such a positive impact on so many lives; being able to be a part of it all, was such a joy. We would 100% recommend anybody who has the chance to help by delivering components across to the partner countries in Africa to do so, it’s such a rewarding experience, and many people can benefit from even a relatively small delivery so it’s totally worth it!