Club Project Spotlight: Uganda

Published at our old website on June 8th, 2012
Reported by Christopher Edwards

In the first half of Rotary Year 2011/12, the Rotary E-Club of London Centenary gave donations totalling £675 to the Rotary Doctor Bank of Great Britain and Ireland for a project supporting the Kamuli Mission Hospital in Uganda.

The project came to the attention of the Club from a new member who had attended a Rotary lunch meeting early in 2010 where the speaker was Dr. Jim McWhirter, a Rotarian from Henley-on-Thames, who gave an inspiring presentation on his work at a hospital in Uganda for Rotary Doctor Bank illustrating his talk with slides and a short video.

Dr. Jim McWhirter joined Rotary when he retired and became a volunteer for the Rotary Doctor Bank. He was sent to the Mission Hospital in Kamuli, a town about 75km north of the source of the River Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria. The hospital serves an area with over 700,000 people. It has 160 beds in medical, maternity, surgical and children’s wards and runs a 24/7 emergency service.

 PICTURE: Dr. McWhirter at work in Kamuli Mission Hospital


For more details see the websites and

Maternity work is a major element of what the hospital does. In Uganda the risk of death to the mother is 1 in 200 compared with 1 in 10,000 in the UK. The risk of death to a child during its birth is 1 in 10 in Uganda compared with 1 in 100 in the UK. Dr McWhirter is working to try to reduce the risks for mothers and babies. By the end of 2011 Dr McWhirter had made six visits to the hospital and has raised large sums of money in England to improve the hospital facilities. At the RIBI conference in April 2010 he was given the Magic of Rotary Volunteer Award.

Rotary Doctor Bank in Great Britain and Ireland is a Rotary charity that was founded in 1994. It operates nationwide but is based in South Wales, has no paid staff and is run entirely by volunteers. It keeps an active register of volunteer doctors and other clinical staff and matches the volunteer’s skills on the register with the requirements of mission hospitals and clinics mainly in Uganda and Malawi but also of other countries that ask for help.

In addition to the work in Uganda, Rotary Doctor Bank supported a mission to Liberia in 2011 in partnership with another charity, Life for African Mothers, to support efforts to reduce the level of maternal mortality in Liberia from the current rate of 1:8. In 2012, Rotary Doctor Bank will work in partnership with the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative in Imperial College, London by providing a surgical team to visit Tanzania to deliver hydrocoele surgeries and trachoma surgeries to correct the consequences of Schistosomiasis and trachoma. By working with SCI it hoped to contribute to making some of the world’s poorest populations healthier, develop fully, learn effectively, raise families, and be productive members of their communities, thereby helping to realise the Millennium Development Goals of sustainable poverty reduction. In Lewanika Hospital in Mongu in the Western Province of Zambia, Rotary Doctor Bank is establishing a long term commitment to improving the provision of orthopaedic surgery and there are plans to deliver dental surgery services in Kenya later in 2012 but also into the long term since one of the key aims of Rotary Doctor Bank is to make any initiatives sustainable in the long term through knowledge and skills transfer as well as by providing clinical services and equipment.

There are no age limits for volunteers but all volunteers are required to be clinically competent, and must be fit enough to work in the hot and often challenging environments in the countries to which they are assigned. The Rotarians running the Doctor Bank help volunteers with documentation, making travel arrangements and with publicity. The volunteers are sponsored directly by Rotary Doctor Bank GB & I using the funds donated by clubs in RIBI and from donations from other sources. For further details contact Rotarian Malcolm McGreevy the National Coordinator RDB GB &I, Tel. 02920 555150

Typically, Rotary Doctor Bank tries to support some 20 volunteers each year amounting to around 130 weeks of service abroad each year. A typical assignment ideally is around 4 weeks but increasingly missions of 2 weeks are becoming the order of the day given that clinicians still in practice cannot always get away from work for longer. It costs about £1,800 for each assignment and, of course, donations are always welcome. The donation given by London Centenary will be used to further the development of Kamuli Hospital as described on the website at

For more about the Rotary Doctor Bank of Great Britain & Ireland, click here.

For more about the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors, click here.