Dr. Elizabeth Igaga, an anesthesia provider in Uganda, faces anxiety when putting patients to sleep for surgery. Monitoring their breathing during surgery is challenging, and it’s hard to detect problems quickly.
She explains, “To help them breathe, I have to put a breathing tube into their windpipe. If I put it in the wrong place, it can be catastrophic.”
Uganda’s operating rooms have oxygen monitors, but they can take too long to detect issues with the breathing tube.
Now, a new device called a Capnograph is changing the game. Smile Train and Lifebox, along with the Association of Anesthesiologists of Uganda, have trained 100 anesthesia providers to use Capnography, preventing breathing-related deaths during surgery.
Capnography ensures that patients breathe through the correct channel, the windpipe. It’s recommended by the World Health Organization and the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists.
Compared to expensive and immobile anesthesia machines, Capnography is affordable, portable, and monitors carbon dioxide levels, blood oxygen, and pulse—critical indicators for patient safety.
Angela Enright, a Clinical Professor of Anesthesia, emphasizes the importance of Capnography in anesthesia, emergency medicine, and intensive care.
However, convincing financers, administrators, and governments of its value is essential. Capnography can save both lives and money by preventing medical errors.
Dr. John Sekabira, a Senior Surgeon, believes Capnography will be a game-changer, providing early detection of breathing issues in surgery.
Even in hospitals without ICUs, Capnography can be used to monitor patients’ basic vital signs. It’s sturdy and has a battery life of six hours.
Following training, 54 Capnographs will be distributed to selected hospitals in Uganda, free of charge, to prevent breathing-related deaths during surgery. Advocacy is ongoing to secure funding for these devices.
Dr. Igaga stresses the importance of spreading the message to ensure more people can benefit from this affordable and life-saving technology.