AusHeal Blog

March 2016 Update

Much has occurred at HEAL Africa Hospital in the past 2 weeks.

David and Heather Kelly departed on Thursday 17 March after 2 months service. David has been working alongside hospital administrative staff including Dr Justin (HEAL Africa CEO) and Mr Patrice Mulamba (Chief of Operations). He has been able to give guidance not only in hospital administration but also to the many community development projects associated with HEAL Africa outside the hospital. Heather continued her English teaching classes up until the day they left and one of her classes sang a song for the hospital staff in English.

David and Heather Kelly about to depart from HEAL Africa Hospital

David and Heather Kelly about to depart from HEAL Africa Hospital

Gwen Wetzig has also been teaching English to the staff of the Finance Department. It not only improves their English but provides practical training in communicating with English-speaking partners of HEAL Africa regarding financial reporting etc.

Gwen Wetzig teaching English to the accountantcy staff

Gwen Wetzig teaching English to the accountantcy staff

Dr Neil Wetzig continues to be involved with surgical patients with complex and difficult conditions referred to HEAL Africa Hospital (HAH). He sees the results of young doctors newly graduated in DRCongo and sent to rural centres to staff a hospital or medical centre on their own with little to no practical experience. They can operate in difficult conditions and frequently without appropriate knowledge or skills. Even a Caesarean section to deliver a baby can be poorly performed. Should complications ensue there are difficulties.

This month a 12 year old girl was treated at HAH following surgery at an outlying peripheral medical centre. Her chance of survival currently is low even with the resources and expertise at HAH. Her problem emphasizes the need for appropriate rural surgical and obstetric/gynaecology availability. Patients with obstetric fistulae as a result of poor child birthing or sexual violence are being referred to HAH with increasing frequency.

A fortnight ago a 9 year old girl underwent major surgery by 2 HEAL Africa Hospital General Surgeons and Dr Neil to bypass her narrowed oesophagus (swallowing tube). She had accidently drunk ACID about 12 months ago severely burning her inside. (Water bottles in Congo are regularly used to store many different fluids without labels.)  The young girl had been unable to eat solid food since swallowing the acid and had visited 4 different hospitals to seek care before coming to HAH in September last year.  As an essential first step a feeding tube was surgically inserted into her stomach in 2015 to allow her nutrition to be improved before major bypass surgery this week 6 months later.

young girl prior to her bypass surgery

Young girl prior to her bypass surgery this month

She has recovered well from her procedure. An x-ray taken 9 days after surgery confirmed all the internal joins were healing well. Hopefully she will be able to eating solid food in a few days.

9 days after major bypass surgery

9 days after major bypass surgery

Bypass surgery, although complex and long, provides an excellent training opportunity for HAH staff at different levels including the operating theatre, intensive care unit and general nurses. AusHEAL has been able to fund this surgery and the young girl’s hospital expenses as her family were unable to afford it. Money well spent, not only because of the young life saved but also because of the training opportunities outlined above. This is about providing ‘sustainable change’ in the medical area which is AusHEAL’s ethos.


A new surgical training programme in basic essential and emergency surgery has been commenced at HEAL Africa Hospital this month to begin dealing with unmet needs for surgical expertise in DRCongo.

As referred to in the previous blog this programme is in conjunction with COSECSA: the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa. At the end of 3 years 5 new trainees at HAH will sit a written and practical exam in an endeavour to gain ‘Membership’ of COSECSA. This is only the second time this English based course has been conducted in a French speaking country. A further year has initially been added to the usual 2 year training program to allow additional English training at HAH. Staff surgeons conduct the programme involving 2 formal training sessions per week together with ‘on the job’ training and mentoring.

AusHEAL is contributing to the establishment of this course both financially and through the oversight of Dr Neil Wetzig who has been given the title of Consultant and Advisor of Surgical Training Programmes by HEAL Africa Hospital.

Booklet received by COSECSA trainees at their first lesson

Booklet produced by the University of Queensland received by COSECSA trainees at their first lesson

This is a unique and new programme for DRCongo. HEAL Africa Hospital is leading the way. Dr Jo Lusi, the founder of HAH, will soon travel to the capital, Kinshasa, to inform the Congolese Minister for Higher Education about the course.

The COSECSA trainees (back row) and trainers (front). Dr Jo Lusi is centre of the front row.

The COSECSA trainees (back row) and trainers (front). Dr Jo Lusi is second from the left in the front row.