ISU Meridian Health Science Center

ISU Meridian faculty and students work to help Ugandan children

Nov. 1, 2011

When Judy Thorne, ISU-Meridian’s HIV and viral hepatitis educator, arrived at Uganda’s Nsumba orphanage last summer, she was struck by the smiles of the children—many living with physical discomforts but resilient despite the challenges in their lives.

“Many of the children had wound infections on their legs and feet from walking barefoot.  They also were suffering from chronic ear and tooth infections.  One child sent us a note asking for help because he was unable to hear his teacher,” said Thorne, a member of a Boise-based medical team that spent three weeks at the orphanage last summer. 

In February and July, Thorne and the team—led by Boise physician Margaret Doucette—will return to the orphanage with medical supplies and equipment for the children. 

This holiday season, the team is raising funds to purchase a mobile dental unit, hearing aids, HIV test kits and other medical supplies.  In-kind contributions of equipment or other medical supplies are also welcome.

The Nsumba orphanage is located in the village of Nsumba about 37 miles from Kampala, the capital of Uganda.  More than 500 children live at the orphanage or attend school there, walking many miles to do so, said Thorne.

Last summer, the medical team evaluated close to 400 children and began developing medical profiles for each one, including exposure to malaria, HIV, viral hepatitis, vaccinations, general growth and development, vision and oral health.  ISU-Meridian dietetic interns are currently assisting the project by recording the children’s height and weight. 

ISU faculty members and students representing the audiology, physician assistant studies and dental residency programs are in the process of exploring the possibility of traveling to the orphanage next July.

“This is important work for our health science students. We’re not only training Idaho’s next generation of health care professionals, but we’re providing them with a broader scope of global health,” said Thorne.

If you’d like to help with the purchase of medical equipment, you can contact Be The Change, Inc., 620 E. Highland Drive, Boise, Idaho  83702.  Financial contributions are tax deductible and should be earmarked “Nsumba.” 

For more information or to make an in-kind contribution, contact Judy Thorne at (208) 373-1710 or thorjudy@isu.edu.

Judy Thorne at Nsumnba Orphanage

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