BGH saving Zambian lives

A medical team from the Borders General Hospital is back from its latest trip to St Francis’ Hospital in Zambia, where it has been helping to save the lives of mothers and infants during childbirth, writes Sandy Neil.

Obstetricians Dr Brian Magowan and Dr Kerrie Thompson, and midwives Susie McFadzen and Sarah Galloway, returned last month from teaching at the BGH’s sister hospital in Katete – a link founded in 2009 by Dr Dorothy Logie to honour her late husband Sandy, who retired from the BGH in 1993 to help fight AIDS in Africa.

The team repeated the life-saving midwifery course taught on a BGH visit in November last year, and trained a further class of 70 midwives and doctors how to cope with labour ward emergencies.

And this year, the project’s leader Dr Magowan said he was “very gratified” to see local people doing some of the teaching.

“When they’re teaching themselves, and teaching each other,” he said, “the project becomes sustainable.”

He reported more differences being made by the BGH trips.

“A big problem is the delay in people being sent to hospital,” he said, “but now the hospital is trying to get sick people there earlier, and treating them quicker, which increases their chance of survival.”

A visit in September identified vital medical equipment needed by the hospital, and last month the medics donated an oxygen monitor for operating theatres, a resuscitation training doll, glucose monitoring kits for diabetics, and physiotherapy equipment paid for by Alison Hennessey’s fundraising.

A local group also knitted hats to give to newborns, and next year an email contact system will be set up for Zambian doctors to bounce diagnoses with BGH specialists.

Money is currently needed to buy bicycles, costing £50 each for a TB treatment support team of Zambian volunteers. So if you wish to donate to St Francis’ hospital or the twinning group, please visit, or send a cheque to Dr Brian Magowan, Borders General Hospital, payable to the Zambia Fund.