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Sunshine Beach, 2018

Christmas for me is the beach, family time, walks on the beach, fishing, reading on the beach, eating a little too much, falling asleep on the beach. You can see there’s a common theme here. And it isn’t the beach.

It’s that it’s all about me.

It’s a little selfish.

Now I could justify that I work hard all year and I deserve a good rest but then so do Dr Hannah Krause and Professor Judith Goh. And yet where are they for Christmas? In Uganda doing their amazing work – prolapse repair work, fistula repair work, training the doctors in Uganda how to improve their birthing skills, their operation skills, teaching the nurses how to improve their skills in caring for women.

Hannah and Judith in Uganda

These incredibly humble women don’t go chasing accolades for their work but recently Hannah had a lovely story covering hers and Judith’s work in the Weekend Magazine of the Courier Mail (Saturday 15th December, 2018) along with another group of generous doctors who travel to third world countries performing their incredible life-changing work all for nothing. These doctors all fund their own work – yes they actually pay with their own money to travel to these countries and they pay the local government to operate on the ladies to repair their fistulas and prolapse.

The article in the Weekend magazine 

Hannah and Judith also get help from HADA – which stands for Health and Development Aid Abroad. Below is a little bit about their work taken from the HADA website.

MEDICAL Training in Africa was approved as a project with HADA in 2011. Prior to this, it was mainly Drs Judith Goh and Hannah Krause who volunteered in developing countries, particularly in Africa, treating women with obstetric fistula and incontinence together with upskilling local health practitioners. Since that approval was given, and with the donations received, we have been able to expand our services and treat more women. Recently an invitation has been accepted to extend our service to Asian countries.

Socially ostracised

Utero-vaginal prolapse is a common problem in Australia and Africa. However, in Africa, the women are also socially isolated and often ostracized from family, in particular their husbands. It costs $215.00 to treat each woman with a prolapse. This includes travel to and from hospital, food and all hospital costs.

Engender Health, a USA organisation, ceased its funding for fistula women in 2013. With donations to Medical Training via HADA, we were able to raise funds to continue to treat these women. It costs $324 for each fistula woman. As a woman in rural Africa usually earns less than a dollar a day, the cost of surgery is beyond her means. Each time we visit Uganda for example, we do up to 40 prolapse surgeries and 70 fistula cases. We have been going over to Uganda at least twice a year.

What is it?

Obstetric fistula is the most common fistula worldwide. It is caused by prolonged, obstructed and neglected labour. The long labour results in a stillborn baby and severe maternal pelvic injury. An obstetric fistula results in abnormal communication between the vagina with the bladder and/or rectum. This means that women will leak urine and/or faeces uncontrollably into the vagina. These women, who are mostly young and in their first pregnancy, are usually ostracized by their husbands and families.

The very grateful ladies after their surgery (the buckets are their ‘catheter bags’

The medical team

Since 2011, the team has expanded to included Drs Judith Goh, Hannah Krause, Miriam Lee, Neroli Ngenda, Barbara Hall and John Taylor. Nurse Jasinta Suric-Maguire has also assisted, as has Mr Darren Diserens. We have visited Democratic Republic of Congo twice, far western Uganda multiple times and Ghana twice. The team trained doctors and nurses in the management of obstetric fistula, pelvic organ dysfunction, cervical cancer screening and obstetric vacuum extraction. A formal pelvic flor workshop in Ghana took place in April this year. Nurses and doctors from three hospitals attended.

Dr Barb Hall and her husband Dr John Taylor also do some incredible fund-raising each year having a Soiree where many generous people give significant amounts to the cause. I’m talking hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years – simply mind-blowing.

Now all I can do every year is donate towards this incredible work. Two years ago my New Years Resolution was to forego any presents for the year and to ask anyone who wanted to give me a present for Mother’s Day or my 60th birthday to instead donate to HADA – Medical Training in Africa This is actually the link to the donation page and remember if you want to tell others about it – it’s Medical Training in Africa to give to Hannah and Judith’s work.

It was a wonderful year, I didn’t accumulate stuff which felt great and my family, friends and staff also got into the swing of things and accepted presents of donations to HADA and this ended up raising quite a lot of money over the year. My beautiful physio staff have continued the trend each year including this one all of them bought me a Xmas present of $160 towards HADA. This is the best. It felt great to receive it and can I implore that if you can do a little bit here and a little bit there with different charities – every little bit helps their work.

Now the last place to spread some Xmas cheer is to help Jane Cannan one of my physios who has gained the opportunity to join the #painrevolution ride with Lorimer Moseley and Dave Butler and the NOI team. All the money raised goes to Research for Persistent Pain via the Uni of South Australia research team.

Jane Cannan 

Jane has to pay money ($1800) to join the ride and has to also fund-raise another $3000 so if you want to have a positive feel-good Christmas (and maybe feel a tiny bit less self-indulgent) can I recommend a small donation to one or each of these worthy causes – I promise you that you will feel good and it will help you to Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Lots of love and here’s to good health and happiness for 2019

Sue and Bob and all my family xx

To donate to HADA here is the link

To donate to Jane’s #painrevolutionride here is the link 

ps #startmoving #keepmoving #staymoving #exerciseismedicine