Rotarian brings crusade for pygmies from Uganda to Carson City

John Barrette / Nevada Appeal

John Barrette / Nevada Appeal

Dr. Scott Kellerman cited startling statistics Tuesday as he brought to Carson City his crusade to enhance medical care for Batwa pygmies in Uganda.

A Rotarian formerly from the Grass Valley-Nevada City area in California, Kellerman has established a hospital in Uganda and is completing the Uganda Nursing School, Bwindi, to keep turning harrowing statistics positive by saving or extending lives.

“Nurses rule, not docs,” said the doctor.

Kellerman told fellow Rotarians at the Carson City Rotary Club’s noon meeting that more nurses will help keep such statistics heading in the right direction. Life expectancy is 28 in Uganda and a high number of mothers have died in childbirth, though the latter problem is ebbing at his hospital.

He said there was a time that if a mother among the pygmies was HIV-positive, there was a 30 percent to 40 percent chance the child she bore would come into the world HIV-positive as well.

“We have an HIV unit now,” he said, adding the above statistic has been lowered to less than a 2 percent chance.

Kellerman said that thanks to incubators supplied by Rotarians and their Service Above Self standard, as well as other medical practices, the number of mothers dying in childbirth has dropped significantly. He said the rate once was one such death for each 113 births, but recently there were 2,000 deliveries at his facility without the loss of a single mother.

He credited Rotarians with helping establish a sexual reproductive health area at the hospital, which has aided in that reduction.

“It’s been ranked the No. 1 hospital in Uganda for the last four years,” Kellerman said. But it is the nursing school that prompts his talks as it nears completion. With an opening for the first class expected in November, this provides an impetus to extend the help for the poverty-infested pygmy population.

“This project will be completed by Aug. 1,” Kellerman said. “Every nursing student will have an iPad.” He said the iPads would have nursing texts loaded on them.

The physician, who won the 2012 Rotary Service Above Self award, was given a check for $2,000 by the local club to help carry on his work.


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