Nothing could have prepared me for my trip to Uganda and my witness of the enormity in the true meaning of “nursing shortage.” In Uganda, the ratio of nurses per 1000 population is 0.61 (United States is 9.37). This data isn’t just a number but a representation of countless many who suffer inadequate nursing care. In the image below, this scenario plays out on a hall floor of a hospital located in the capital city of Kampala.

pub-Jan09The staff in this hospital refers to the labor ward as “the factory.” Each day 60 to 80 women give birth here. The dozen or so women in this picture are in active labor; some enduring pain in silence, others not so silently, all fighting bravely and none receiving adequate nursing care

We can’t blame the nursing staff as they are functioning beyond reasonable working capacity. Many feel discouraged as they are not able to give the level of care they wish to give.

While in Uganda, I, along with other TGF supporters, toured many schools of nursing, hospitals and clinics. We collaborated with national nursing associations and government health officials, all with the objective to determine priority needs in nursing education and find TGF’s programmatic niche. Overall the trip was a success, and across the board, our program was heartily received.

The nursing shortage crisis and the subsequent suffering are daunting, particularly where our travels took us to the northern regions where deep scars can be seen from 22 years of war.

But there is hope and it can be found in the many practicing nurses that aspire to scale-up their education in addition to the innumerable others who endeavor to enter the ranks and take their sides by becoming nurses themselves. But without scholarship assistance and capacity building, these dreams will go unanswered. For TGF, there is no turning back from the innumerable images burned into our memories.

I’d like to give my great thanks to our TGF volunteers in Uganda who logged many hours to make our trip possible and to our supporters at home who believe in our mission, and also, chose not to turn away.

2009 will prove to be a challenging year, but we at TGF are excited for our prospects to affect change and move women like these from the floor and into the care of skilled and committed nurses.

If you are interested in making a contribution, our website accepts online credit card donations or you can send a check to:

The Gretta Foundation, 101 California Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco, CA 94111

Please remember that all donations are 100% tax deductible.

Thank you very much for your help and for becoming part of The Gretta Foundation family.

With best wishes and my warmest regards,