Every year, approximately 400,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus—a dangerous neurological condition causing high levels of fluid in the brain. For a child with early access to quality surgical care, the chance of leading a full, productive life is high.
But more than half of the children born with hydrocephalus are in Sub-Saharan Africa. For a baby born in a country like South Sudan—with no specialized hospital equipped to treat children with neurological conditions—it is almost always fatal. CURE is committed to reaching these children, even when it means leaving our hospital to bring care across borders and into challenging places.
CURE Uganda: Sub-Saharan Africa’s First Specialized Paediatric Neurosurgical Hospital
CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda (CURE Uganda) performs more hydrocephalus and spina bifida surgeries each year than any other hospital in the world. Since opening in 2001, it has emerged as a leader in delivering expert neurosurgical treatment for these life-threatening conditions. The internationally recognized hospital completes more than 1,900 neurosurgeries annually. Our patients are medically fragile, their surgeries are highly complex, and their post-surgical monitoring and follow-up care are essential to their successful outcomes.
To reach families in remote parts of the country, CURE Uganda sends out teams of medical and ministry leaders from the hospital. They find and refer children with neurological conditions to CURE and provide critical follow-up care for children recovering from neurosurgeries. These mobile teams reach children living in remote regions by car, motorbike, and even on foot. Since July 2022, CURE Uganda has sent 33 of these teams throughout the country. Through CURE’s expanded partnership with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), hope can now take flight and cross borders to reach and serve more medically fragile children.
Hope Takes Flight: CURE Uganda Sends Doctors to South Sudan
Until recently, the only hope for South Sudanese children with neurosurgical issues to connect with CURE Uganda was through a partnership with Usratuna Rehabilitation Centre in Juba, which has been referring children in need of surgical care to CURE Uganda for nearly a decade.
Flying together, CURE and MAF can bring this much-needed medical care directly to South Sudan to treat more children in need. The focus will be on providing post-operative checkups for patients who have had surgery at CURE Uganda, along with assessing and scheduling new patients in need of neurosurgery. CURE has transportation partners who shuttle patients to and from the hospital.
The first flight carrying a medical and ministry team of 10 from CURE Uganda landed in Juba earlier this May to conduct the two-day clinic. Tim Erickson, Executive Director of CURE Uganda, says, “[We are] crossing borders to reach some of the world’s most vulnerable children with life-threatening neurological conditions.”
Dr. Isaac Ddamulira, part of CURE’s clinical team, called the clinic “lifesaving” for several children. “It is possible that without this clinic, these children could have had a severe disability, worsening quality of life, and, in the worst-case scenario, death,” he said.
Little Patricia, born with hydrocephalus, was one of the 43 patients served in South Sudan. CURE Uganda performed her surgery last fall. Rather than make the perilous journey back to CURE for Patricia’s follow-up appointment, her mom, Angelo, brought her to CURE’s clinic in Juba for assessment.
Angelo shared, “I’m now witnessing significant changes in my daughter . . . she can now smile and even turn on her own. The difference is noticeable . . . We are grateful to God for her healing and to CURE for their incredible support.”
Angelo recalls how, while she was at CURE Uganda, the ministry team cared for her even as surgeons were caring for Patricia: “When we first visited CURE, a pastor spoke to us and comforted me with the Word of God, reminding me that nothing is impossible with Him.”
An Eternal Impact: Seeing God at Work
While doctors were providing medical care, CURE Uganda’s spiritual team, led by Fred Wangwa, shared God’s message of hope.
“There is nothing better you can say than what the Word of God says . . . I have seen God work at mobile clinics like this,” Fred shared. “We impact people physically and medically. But when we impact them spiritually and eternally, their destinies change forever as they give their lives to Christ.”
All surgery and ministry care at each of our CURE hospitals—and the care we provide beyond hospital walls—is generously sponsored by CURE partners and provided at no cost to children and families in need.
[This article originally appeared on the CURE International website on Monday 24th July 2023]