AusHeal Blog




The HEAL Africa Hospital (HAH) surgical workload has been carried by Dr Neil Wetzig as his Congolese General Surgical colleague has been away on ‘surgical outreach’ repairing cleft lips and palates. There has been an abundance of very sick patients with many and varied conditions. Patients undergoing surgery who have healed well have been discharged. A few, however, have sadly succumbed including a 3-day old baby with an unusual congenital syndrome and dying bowel.

In the last 3 weeks there have been 5 cases of what we term ‘Abdominal Catastrophe’ referred from rural health centres – mostly young women who have a Caesarean Section but the bowel has been cut.  After unsuccessful surgical attempts to repair the complications, patients are eventually sent to HEAL Africa Hospital. Subsequent management of these patients is complex. Surgery takes several hours. They require intense post-operative care. Neil has been feeling exhausted. There have also been other large tumours requiring removal, as well as complex cases where surgery was not required – but all are good teaching exercises for our basic surgical trainees.


The AusHEAL Hospital Patient Fund (A.H.P.F.) has enabled some poor patients to be given medical care at the Hospital.  So many people in eastern Congo are very poor and therefore medical care is just out of reach for such people.  The AHPF helps those genuinely in need and provides practical training for young doctors being trained by AusHEAL volunteers.  This young boy is one example of a patient who was treated by the AHPF. 



Welcome back Dr Kigayi – AusHEAL has sponsored Dr Kigayi’s specialist training in Anaesthesiology in Tanzania for the last 3 years. He has recently completed his training and able to be registered as one of the few specialist anaesthetic doctors in DRCongo, the majority of anaesthetics being given by nurse-anaesthetists. Dr Kigayi has returned to HEAL Africa Hospital bringing not only specialised skills to the anaesthetic service, but also leadership to the team.

Dr Kigati (left) with Shabani (head nurse-anaesthetist) at HEAL Africa Hospital


HAH COSECSA TRAINING SCHEME (College of Surgeons of East, Central & Southern Africa)

COSECSA training at HEAL Africa Hospital, sponsored  & pioneered by AusHEAL, continues with the 6 Hospital Trainees. Sadly, only one of the 3 senior Trainees who sat their written exams in early September, passed.  Our Trainers considered this exam to be quite difficult and requiring a high standard to pass. The results do not reflect the hard work or progress that has been made by the trainees since the course commenced.

COSECSA trainers Dr Muller (HAH) (left), & Dr Neil (AusHEAL) (2nd left) with current COSECSA trainees

The priority now, is to coach Dr Jacques (the senior trainee who passed) for his oral exam to be held on 3 December in Kigali.  Dr Neil will be an examiner for the College in the COSECSA examinations 

A Basic Surgical Skills Course held in Kigali, Rwanda recently was attended by the 3 HAH junior COSECSA Trainees – a requirement of the MCS (Membership of the College of Surgeons) course.  All 3 found the course to be practically helpful and enjoyed the learning experience.  Dr Neil participated as one of the Course Trainers. It was a great chance for Neil to be with our Trainees, as well as meeting up again with Scottish COSECSA trainers from the College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, whom he has met previously, together with networking with colleagues from Rwanda.

Basic Surgical Science course in Kigali, Rwanda

Dr Neil with the 3 HEAL Africa new trainees at the COSECSA Basic Science course


The new Community Health Centre for Women & Children  at HEAL Africa Hospital is about to become a reality.  Plans have been drawn, funding has been approved by AMADE MONDIALE (the foundation of the late Princess Grace of Monaco and now overseen by her daughter, Princess Caroline) A Memorandum of Understanding is being negotiated, and this past week a meeting was held with a local Banking Development Manager to arrange management of funds for the construction of this new building.  As some of this arises from the visit to Monaco last April by Neil & Gwen Wetzig, these negotiations are providing other significant issues for Neil & Gwen to deal with.



The AusHEAL-HEAL Africa Training Centre is progressing well with doors about to be fitted and windows to follow.  The external walls were painted last week to match the rest of the building. The Training Centre being the top floor of the multi-story Outpatients building. Once it is to lock-up stage we can think about ‘moving in’. We hope that happens before Neil & Gwen leave in early December.

AusHEAL-HEAL Africa TRAINING CENTRE now painted (the top story)


The Container, jointly sent by Brisbane’s Mater Hospital and DHL, arrived recently. Whilst this was very good news, the container had to be returned to Dar es Salaam with the truck due to a misunderstanding in Australia. The original intention was for the container to remain at HEAL Africa Hospital. Therefore, a rush ensued to have the container unloaded as soon as possible. Last Saturday was the only time it could be done. The day was dull and it rained. About 5 or 6 ‘officials’ from Customs/the transport company ‘agent’/government office all had to be present when the container was unlocked and unloaded. They each had to make an individual list of what was unpacked from the container.  Interesting process….. a long and eventually hot day…… tiring!  Importantly, the contents had travelled well from Brisbane with valuable needed contents (not monetary value) received for the AusHEAL-HEAL Africa Training Centre and the Hospital.

Unloading the Container sent by Mater Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

Goma, D.R.Congo …..


Total cases of Ebola in the Beni area of North Kivu Province are estimated at 287. (Confirmed cases 252 + Probable cases 35) with 181Deaths (146 Confirmed + Probable 35). This is now the largest outbreak in Congo’s history, but has thankfully not yet reached Goma.


Anti-Government Protests were peacefully held in Goma on Friday 26th October. In the capital Kinshasa the next day, thousands of pro-Government supporters gathered in a large stadium. Locally, lawlessness is increasing and political marches are becoming more frequent.  We (Neil & Gwen) remain vigilant. The Electoral Commission visited the hospital to educate staff and patients how to use the computerised voting ‘machine’. The vast majority of the population cannot read or write, complicating the Electoral Commission’s endeavours.


The new Fistula Building is among the triad of new buildings in 2018 at HEAL Africa Hospital, in addition to the AusHEAL-HEAL Africa Training Centre and Amade Mondiale Community Health Centre for Women and Children. The Fistula Building, funded by the Fistula Foundation, opened mid-October. At the opening the excitement of women was contagious as they entered the new building, singing and dancing, in appreciation for this new facility.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 has been awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Dr Denis Mukwege has devoted his life to defending victims of wartime sexual violence in DRCongo.

Dr Mukwege leads the PANZI Hospital in Bukavu, capital of SOUTH Kivu province in eastern DRCongo. Goma is the capital of NORTH Kivu province, separated from its southern counterpart by Lake Kivu. HEAL Africa Hospital is centrally involved in fistula repair throughout its own province in North Kivu. The above building is testimony.

Heal Africa Hospital’s founder, Dr Jo Lusi, was instrumental in Dr Mukwege’s specialising in gynaecology and, in fistula repair. Dr Jo recently paid visit to Dr Mukwege to offer congratulations and encouragement on his award.