Health worker heroes: Mr. Odongo Dickens

My Health worker Heroes are the team at Kitgum Hospital, and in particular, the Senior Clinical Officer, Mr. Odongo Dickens, who has set up a robust TB detection system with evidence-based changes, like setting up presumptive registers at several patient entry points, including the maternity ward. This system has helped with screening and identifying TB patients and starting them on the correct treatment early enough to save their lives. Dickens is the clinician in charge of the Multi Drug Resistant TB Unit and he is the District TB and Leprosy Supervisor who does a lot of TB work within Kitgum District.

I witnessed this system while on a field visit to the hospital. I met a new mother one month after the Kitgum team had started treating her.

This 26 year old new mother working in South Sudan arrived at the hospital in a very bad medical state, with a number of complications and in a wheel chair. She had been sick since November 2016 when she was in her third trimester of pregnancy. Her first symptom was chest pain which was partially treated using unknown medication that was prescribed and purchased from a private hospital. She attended antenatal care in South Sudan, where her family lives and works. She is Ugandan, and travelled to Uganda to have her baby. She had her baby and received Post-natal care in a Ugandan HC III in Lamwo District near the South Sudan border. This lady was diagnosed with HIV when her baby was 2 weeks old, at which point both her and her baby were started on ARVs. When her baby was 4 weeks old, the lady got sicker and was admitted at this HC III, and treated but with no improvement.

She then referred herself to Kitgum Hospital after she deteriorated and had to be taken in on a wheel chair. At Kitgum Hospital, she was admitted through the Out Patient Department (OPD) with a diagnosis of Puerperal Sepsis and Anemia. On the TB ward, the diagnosis changed to disseminated TB (TB Meningitis and Abdominal TB) after appropriate investigations by the Kitgum hospital team. She was started on anti TB treatment and transferred to the extra pulmonary TB ward. I met her and took this photo one month after she started treatment, and found that she had regained her strength and was able to move around. In spite of being a low resourced hospital near the border to an unstable country, the Kitgum hospital team was able to detect and successfully treat such a complex case.

Nominated by Esther Karamagi, COP, USAID ASSIST Uganda

Odongo Dickens, seated at an outdoor desk in mask and lab smock, attends to TB patients who wait in the background of the image
Odongo Dickens, seated at an outdoor desk in mask and lab smock, attends to TB patients.
April 06, 2017
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