todayApril 1, 2024

GRRH Board Chairman Dr. Paul Onek and the Principal Hospital Administrator Mr. Walter Uryekwun receiving the EEG with its accessories. Photo by Proscovia Achomo

By Proscovia Achomo


Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (GRRH) last week received a donation of a computerized Electrorencepalogram (EEG) worth 60 million from Mayo Clinic Arizonia, USA through Gulu University Faculty of Medicine.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures electrical activity in the brain using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to the scalp. Brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even during asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on an EEG recording.

An EEG is one of the main diagnostic tests for epilepsy. It can also play a role in diagnosing other brain disorders.

The Computerized Electrocochleogram(EEG)machine is used for measuring electrical impulses (waves) from the brain. It can therefore be used to diagnose mental and brain related problems like epilepsy, brain injury, dementia, brain tumor, strokes, sleeping problems, attention deficit disorder, behavioral delays in children, and behavioral disorders that disrupt normal daily routines and many other conditions.

An EEG might also be used to confirm brain death in someone in a persistent coma. A continuous EEG is used to help find the right level of anesthesia for someone in a medically induced coma. The machine also supplements the CT-Scan.

Dr Sam Olum a Physician and a specialist from Gulu University who has been assigned to operate this machine revealed that he was trained how to use this machine and how to interpret the results.

He pledges to train a technician from Gulu Regional Referral Hospital who will be seated at the station to use this machine because at the moment he is the only one who knows how to operate the EEG. “My work will mainly be to interpret the results and give what the diagnosis comes of it,” he explained.

On the life expectancy of this machine, Sam explained that if used well, this machine can last over 10 years and because it is the only machine, it is used for a maximum of one to eight hours and can only work on a maximum of 8 patients per day. He further explained that, this machine requires special condition because it needs to be sound isolated not sound proof because sound affects its functioning.

Walter Uryekwun, Principal Administrator Gulu Regional Referral Hospital said that this machine will assist in the mental health unit since the hospital is treating about 800 mentally sick patients. “This machine is a blessing to our hospital, we were very happy to receive it because it is going to help specifically our mental health Unit where we have quite a number of clients who come in and these clients you need to establish their mental capacity, reasons why they are behaving the way they are behaving and also try to give them the best therapy,” he noted.

Walter disclosed that as a hospital, they have designated a special building and space for the machine which is closer to the mental health unit. He added that the machine will be installed in two months’ time and that the installation of this machine is estimated to cost about 200 million shillings.

He calls upon the public to make good use of this machine as long as they have some uncoordinated headache and conditions that are not clearly understood. Patients will not be charged any fees to access these services.

Gulu Regional Referral Hospital Board Chairman, Dr Paul Onek Awil revealed that the donation is part of the collaborative memorandum the hospital had with Gulu University which includes providing a technical staff to operate the machine and also training one personnel of the hospital to operate this machine. “In the collaboration Memorandum of Understanding, the University will provide the technical staff to manage the machine and they will even pay their salaries because it is part of the collaboration and also another donation to the Hospital,” he explained.

He revealed that the hospital has the biggest challenge of lack of specialized staffs. “There are lots of vacant places which the government has released some funds for their support for recruiting them, but they are very few for instance specialized services like the EEG which needs some Neurologists or Psychiatrist which we don’t have”. “This development is a call to the ministry of Health to recruit more staff not only to manage the machine, but other specialized staff like psychiatrist and neurologists,” Dr Paul urged.

He further explicated that the government of Uganda should not fold hands simply because Gulu University has offered its staff to operate the machine, Gulu Regional Referral Hospital also needs its own Staff to manage this machine.

Epileptic patients from Gulu and districts in Acholi Sub-region who require EEG diagnosis have always been transferred to either Butabika or Mulago Hospitals for the test.

Gulu Regional Referral Hospital serves annually over 1.9 million people. The Digital Electrocochleogram (EEG) machines are currently available in Mulago National Referral Hospital, Butabika National Referral Hospital, Mbarara Hospital and now Gulu Regional Hospital.

Uganda, with a population of over 45 million has only five neurologists trained to deal with epilepsy.

A neurologist is a medical doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke and others.

Neurologists are highly trained clinicians capable of diagnosing complex conditions through detailed history and physical examination, including testing of mental status, vision, speech, strength, sensation, coordination, reactions, and manner.

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