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Norwich doctor is helping to transform young lives in Africa

PUBLISHED: 09:04 03 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:20 03 November 2017

Dr Ruth Seager with some of the team in The Gambia. Photo: NNUH

Dr Ruth Seager with some of the team in The Gambia. Photo: NNUH

NNUH

A doctor from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is using her expertise to help transform the lives of young patients overseas.

Donated BNF books. Photo: NNUH Donated BNF books. Photo: NNUH

Dr Ruth Seager, who works with the NNUH paediatric surgery team, is a volunteer with the charity Humanity First Medical UK. The charity provides medical assistance to communities overseas, either as part of a response team following a disaster, or by offering medical support and training during longer-term projects.

Dr Seager is part of a global volunteer team of surgeons, doctors, nurses and paramedics who give their spare time to help people in need, with the volunteers sometimes paying for their own flights.

At the moment Dr Seager is taking part in a project supporting the Gambian Health Ministry to improve the infrastructure of the country’s health service and works at the country’s main paediatric hospital in the capital Banjul.

Dr Seager said: “I have been going to The Gambia every six months for about two years and we spend one or two weeks there each time.

“We do not have a large budget, so I try to get as much donated equipment and supplies as possible. The NNUH recently donated several copies of last year’s BNF, the British National Formulary – a book which provides details of medicines and how they should be prescribed, including their side-effects and doses.

“We teach basic resuscitation for children and newborns and have created an emergency box containing vital equipment for looking after very unwell children, including saturations monitors, oxygen masks and emergency airways. With the support of Teleflex (medical technology provider) we have also provided training and equipment for obtaining emergency intraosseous access when needed for resuscitation.

“Last year we had new bed linen and mattresses made for the neonatal unit, and we recently donated three CPAP machines (continuous positive airway pressure) with the help of another charity SAFE Anaesthesia Worldwide. During one visit we decorated the paediatric and neonatal units with colourful wall stickers donated by Beckyandlolo.com.

“The neonatal unit previously had no way of sterilising feeding cups so we donated sterilising tablets and buckets which allow this to be done easily now. A six-month supply of tablets costs only £20.”

Dr Seager said although the team spends a short time during each visit, the project appears to be a success because the volunteers return regularly and can see what has worked and what hasn’t and adjust their work accordingly. She added: “We very much work with the local doctors and nurses who lead our projects. They tell us what they need and we work together”.

During a recent visit, Dr Seager had a chance meeting with the new President Adama Barrow who was very grateful for the help provided by the team.

She said: “The people are all extremely friendly and welcoming, they have the clinical expertise, it is facilities and resources which they lack.

“I find it upsetting when you see patients who you know could be helped more if resources were not limited.

“We are very close to the local doctors and when we leave they know we are always coming back 6 months later to continue our work together.”

Anyone who would like to get involved with the charity can find further information on the website or contact Ruth directly at ruth.seager@uk.humanityfirst.org

Donations to the Gambia project can be made by clicking here.

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