April 18, 2016
Sunday was our first day in Masindi and our time here got off to a busy start with conducting two Blood Pressure Screenings at 2 churches. I think this is the 4th time a team and I have done a large-scale BP screening for the Church of Uganda here in Masindid. The 2 churches were chosen by the Healthcare Education Missionary here in Masindi and we’ve continued to come to those same 2 churches, St. Matthew’s and All Saints Cathedrals each year. The reason we don’t move to different churches is because this way we can achieve a sustainable service, with BP monitoring once a year. Even so, we get many, many new people each year. The children love to watch what we are doing and we will pretend to take their BP. We do this both to interact with the adorable kids but more importantly, so that they lose their fear of healthcare workers and learn to accept this very easy and important monitoring tool to identify patients who are at risk for heart attacks and strokes.
We started the day at 8am and ended at 3pm. We split our group and I placed 2 students at each site and I spent some time with the first team to get them started and then when things were going smoothly, I went to the 2nd team. I ended up staying at St. Matthews because it was pretty busy but both teams saw large numbers of people. The All Saints Cathedral group checked the BP for 128 adults and the team at St. Matthews saw 161 adults which is a grand total of 289 adults. Overall, 25% (72 patients) of them had elevated readings and were advised to have their BP rechecked at a medical clinic to confirm high blood pressure within the next few weeks to month. But 29 patients had such high readings they were strongly advised to see a physician this week. So it is clear this type of health screening is really needed and useful.
BP screenings are very simple to conduct and if you use automatic cuffs, there would be little training for the workers. This could be done in large scale in Uganda at a relatively low cost. We used manual cuffs that you pump up yourselves but if the sounds were hard to hear or if the reading was high, we confirmed this with the automatic BP cuff. Today we start at the Masindi-Kitara Medical Center Clinic and it will be interesting to see if any of the patients with the high BP readings come to see us. Overall it was a fantastic albeit tiring day, and very fulfilling.