AusHeal Blog

Congo NEWS

AUSHEAL in October 

Visiting AusHEAL Team – September 2018   


  • the final week of AusHEAL’s visiting September teams was quite busy with team members finalising training programs, distributing certificates of training to their Congolese colleagues and saying their goodbyes. In chapel on the last Friday morning there was loud celebration in appreciation of the contribution made by the  teams – one of the Interpreters even wrote and sang a special song of thanks urging the team members to ‘please come back again’!!!
  • 16 AusHEAL Team members all in red shirts departed Goma airport on SATURDAY 15th September and
  • arrived safely (with their luggage) back in Brisbane Australia early on the following MONDAY morning
  • Team member, Paul  (after being here 10 weeks) departed DR Congo the following Monday, having left a great contribution to HEAL Africa in terms of IT, cabling & support, mentoring, chaplaincy training and building supervision & advice

    AusHEAL Team Farewell from HEAL Africa Hospital

    Team debrief, held at the end of each day at HEAL Africa

    Paul (centre) with Bizi (HEAL Africa) (left) and Dr Neil (right)


Responses received from senior HEAL Africa Hospital staff following the Workshop (reported in our last newsletter) included:

  1. “Thank you so much for the well organized and helpful workshop. We hope this will improve healthcare at HEAL AFRICA. My mentor told me when I came back from Makerere University “Never stop learning”.  It has been very helpful to all of us. Please say thanks to AusHEAL team.  ASANTE SANA” (“thank you very much” in Swahili)
  2. “Thank you very much for asking me to participate in this year’s workshop. Thank you for the wonderful organization. It was very good, exciting. Thank you for helping HEAL Africa to improve the care of patients, the care of our Congolese brothers and sisters”


We still await the written exam results for the 3 senior COSECSA Trainees. (College of Surgeons of East, Central & Southern Africa) Planning is underway for all our Trainees and some Trainers to attend the annual COSECSA Scientific Congress held during the first week of December in Kigali, Rwanda.

One junior trainee commented to Gwen that he had “obtained his computer from AusHEAL”…… quickly followed by saying  “I bought this with the money I earned from interpreting for AusHEAL teams a few years ago”.   Proof of a ‘double blessing’ to medical students who interpret for our teams

One of the senior COSECSA trainees giving his presentation on “Splenic Preservation”

During a ward round,  Dr Neil asked one of the Senior COSECSA Trainees about an in-patient. He was able to identify the issue, think through the solution and come up with the right response.  He said, “before COSECSA training we did not know any of this – we would have to go and ask someone in the Internal Medicine Department – but now we know this for ourselves and understand how to work out the diagnosis and treatment.”  This is why we are here !!

Clinical Challenges…..

  • a baby with a large kidney tumour – she underwent successful surgery but arrested some hours later, presumed due to a reaction to the small blood transfusion given after her operation – 3 team members were involved in resuscitating her in ICU before Dr Neil even heard there was a problem. The surgical team were still in the Operating Theatre with another difficult case. Sadly, she died during the early hours of the following morning. So devastating for all involved!
  • a young man who had tried to take his own life by drinking acid, was permanently left with a hugely scarred and narrowed oesophagus (stricture) such that he could barely swallow.  The narrowing was corrected by removing the scarred oesophagus in his chest and replaced with bowel transferred from his abdomen in an 8-hour operation. Huge surgery. He is now able to eat again as a result and has now been discharged.

    Oesophageal by-pass patient with the surgical team (photo with permission)

    Successfully now able to eat

  • a further malnourished man who also drank acid after a fight with his wife. He required excision of a tight stricture of his oesophagus and bypass of his narrowed duodenum, the outlet of his stomach. Successful surgery. A week later his abdominal wound sprang open! He was just so malnourished that his healing ability was hugely impaired, in spite of good nutritional feeding by a tube before his operation to build him up
  • a young female pedestrian hit by a car admitted to HEAL Africa Hospital (HAH) with one leg almost amputated and the other severely injured. She underwent surgery to both legs with a nerve block rather than general anaesthetic. Blood transfusion had been refused as she was a Jehovah’s Witness, significantly compromising her ability to survive a general anaesthetic. The nerve block used had only recently been taught by Dr Luke, our visiting AusHEAL team anaesthetist. The young lady is surviving, in spite of her extremely low blood count
  • many other operations continue to be done, including women who have had bad outcomes from previous Caesarean sections elsewhere in the Province

HATS Training Centre…..

  • The visiting AusHEAL Teams were taken on a tour through the top floor of the Outpatients Building to inspect the progress of the construction of the HEAL Africa Training Centre (H.A.T.S.).  It is hoped that construction will be completed and the centre mostly fitted out prior to Neil and Gwen’s return to Australia late 2018
  • Last Friday the ‘Building Committee’ also toured the construction. Dr Neil was able to further enhance their understanding of capacity-building into Health through the use of a dedicated Training Centre
  • Recently, AusHEAL team members Neil, Paul and Tim went shopping with ‘Bizi’ (HAH Technical Department Chief) to look for electrical goods for the skills laboratory. Neil went back with Bizi a week later and the goods were purchased and transported to HAH.   A surreal experience
  • A container provided by the Mater Hospital Brisbane and DHL, recently shipped from Brisbane with many items for the new Training Centre and associated Skills Workshop, was scheduled to arrive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this past weekend. It will be trucked directly to Goma, and hopefully, arrive at the hospital in about a week’s time

    Team inspection of the H.A.T.S. Centre

    Large Training Room

    Window frame construction

    Painting progress

    H.A.T.S. Building Committee in the facility

AusHEAL Congo Project – 2019-2021 strategic planning …..

  • Members of the AusHEAL Congo Project Steering Committee, who were in Goma, met with members of HEAL Africa senior staff for joint discussions regarding the next 3-year project of AusHEAL partnering with HEAL Africa in association with the Global Development Group. The meeting gave opportunity for HEAL Africa to suggest ways in which they would like AusHEAL to support their work, be it personnel and training, financial or logistical.
  • One of the main concerns for HEAL Africa was that up till now AusHEAL has invested significant effort, time and logistical resources into clinical training.  The senior hospital executive expressed their desire for AusHEAL to work with them on preventative health measures and Primary Health Care.

    AusHEAL Congo Project STEERING COMMITTEE meeting with the senior HEAL Africa Executive


Construction progress…..

Pictured is continuing work on the Women’s and Children’s Inpatient Pavilion – where it joins one of the existing buildings.  Also the Fistula Care Building is almost completed and is due to be officially opened on 12th October. These two hospital buildings are separate and distinct from the AusHEAL sponsored training centre above.


Ebola ‘Sensitization’

HEAL Africa has undertaken a community role of helping to educate community groups on Ebola prevention.  Students from the Ephphatha Deaf school visited HAH for a training session given by Dr Muller (HAH Emergency Physician).  The special thing about this group is that one of the school’s partners is an Australian-based organisation, WorldShare, based in Sydney – who also partner with HEAL Africa and who, along with AusHEAL and Sonic Healthcare, comprise the HEAL Africa-Australian Alliance meeting annually to co-ordinate and co-operate in supporting HEAL Africa.

Solar Buddy distribution…..

36 ‘Solar Buddy’ lights constructed by Year 6 students from Rochedale State School (Queensland, Australia) on Brisbane’s southside, were distributed by AusHEAL to Senior form students who are part of the HEAL Africa Child Sponsorship Program (administered by HEAL Africa Australian partner, WorldShare).  Rochedale State School is an internationally-minded school, keen to look beyond their area & help others in need around the world. Students from Goma DR Congo were grateful to receive their solar lights to enable them to study after dark, when there is no electricity for household lighting.

UN Hospital CME Day….. 

Senior HEAL Africa Hospital staff were invited to attend the UN Hospital CME Day (Clinical Medical Education) at the new UN Hospital compound in Goma. Attendance was by specific personal invitation only.  Security was quite tight. Visitors had to ‘sign in’ a few times and, once seated had to sign another sheet of paper.  Gwen was listed as ‘Dr Gwen Wetzig’.  “First and probably last time that will ever happen” – she thought!

Three HAH doctors (Dr Muller, Emergency Physician; Dr Simplice, Orthopaedic Surgeon; and Dr Justin Jnr, one of our junior COSECSA trainees who spoke on behalf of Dr Medard, General Surgeon) ably gave presentations on clinical work at HAH.

UN hospitality was warm and friendly. There was good opportunity for ‘making connections’ between the UN Hospital, HEAL Africa Hospital and the Provincial Hospital.  It was unanimously agreed that all 3 hospitals could work more closely together. Such an encouragement.  Continuing medical deployment at the UN Hospital is from India. Those in the current deployment are keen to support HEAL Africa Hospital through clinical training.

Lunch at the UN Hospital