We dress the wound— God heals it, reads the audacious strapline of St Kizito Matany hospital popularly referred to as the ‘pride of Napak.’
This could be the only explanation why James, 33 from Iriiri District trekked 32 kilometres to the hospital to collect his weekly Tuberculosis treatment. For James, his tuberculosis diagnosis helped him discover, he was HIV positive. Prior to that, James had gotten very weak and begun coughing up blood. The coughing was accompanied by fever and sweating in the night coupled with drastic weight loss.
At first, he thought the cough would clear on its own but three weeks later his condition was not improving. His wife took him to Iriiri Health Centre II where the medical officer referred him to St. Kizito Matany Hospital.
Since he was too weak to walk, they had to wait for the 5:00 pm Bus from Kampala that passes through Iriiri town to Matany. It was 10:00 am when they received the referral letter. James had to wait for eight hours before he could get to St. Kizito Matany Hospital.
“I was nearly dead when they took me to the hospital, I was put on a stretcher and taken for consultation where I was referred to the laboratory. At the laboratory, they requested for sputum and blood.”
James’s wife waited patiently as the laboratory technician took off the samples and they proceeded to wait by the cement slab benches under the large acacia trees outside the laboratory. When the Laboratory Technician called out James’s name, his wife went to the small service window set at the entrance of the laboratory building and took the results.
‘Take this to the Doctor,’ said the Laboratory Technician
James’s wife peeped through the door and the doctor gestured for her to come in. The Doctor then looked at the laboratory results and requested the wife to step out as he proceeded to explain to James the test results.
‘You have tuberculosis,’ said the doctor and you have tested HIV positive!
“Getting the HIV positive diagnosis along the Tuberculosis test results was not easy. It’s still not easy to accept having HIV; I’m still worried about being ostracized but with counselling it’s starting to register. I was given lots of medication and slowly I have been getting better.”
St. Kizito Matany Hospital is the only hospital in Napak District. Although it is NGO founded, the hospital supports 6 Health Centre IIIs, and 7 Health Centre IIs serving a population of 197,700, with only 43% of the population living within 5 km or more to the nearest health facility (whether public or private).
This fact alone indicates the critical role St Kizito Matany Hospital laboratory plays in the diagnosis of over 197,700 people in Uganda and it is one of the reasons it was selected by the Ministry of health to join the accreditation pipeline. Joining the pipeline meant the laboratory received technical assistance from AGHPF with funding from CDC leading to SANAS application and successful assessment and recommendation for International Accreditation to ISO 15189:2012.
The technical support given by AGHPF was in form of training and mentorship of the laboratory staff in the implementation of a quality management system and laboratory audits to identify quality management system gaps.
These mentorships, trainings and audits were coordinated by the National Health Laboratory Diagnostic Services (NHLDS) in collaboration with The Aids Support Organization (TASO) and culminated into presentation of the hospital laboratory to SANAS for an initial assessment. This assessment was held on the 28th and 29th of April 2021; resulting in the laboratories recommendation for accreditation.