Case Study - Richard Feinmann
Manchester Royal Infirmary
Respiratory Physician Richard Feinmann and his team in Uganda have
won a prestigious 'Getting evidence into practice' award at the
British Medical Journal Group Awards. He was part of a Ugandan team
trialling a new technique to diagnose Tuberculosis (TB) resulting
in more people being treated.
Having spent 15 years at the MRI, one would have forgiven Dr
Feinmann, 65, for putting his feet up after his retirement.
Instead he chose to volunteer at the International Hospital
Kampula for a year where encountered a continent that had 100,000
cases of TB. He explained that after the AIDS epidemic in the
early nineties, the cases of TB rose due to the immune systems of
HIV/AIDS sufferers being lowered.
However, diagnostic tests are extremely expensive so along with
Target TB, he carried out research into low-cost intervention into
the diagnoses of TB in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Feinmann said: "This award is for all the Ugandan
volunteer workers and village health workers who worked so
hard with us to improve the lot of their community. We are
very pleased with the award."
The technique is known as
Microscopic Observed Technique (MOT) and the programme is now run
by a team of Ugandan doctors, clinical officers, TB nurses and an
increasing number of trained volunteers. This has led to
increased rates of diagnosis and treatment of TB and opening the
doors to better management of TB, not only in Uganda but across
When Dr Feinmann decided to volunteer overseas he hadn't
realised that people of his age could volunteer. He added:
"One of the things I want to stress is that people of my age can
volunteer when they retire. It's an extraordinary
experience." In fact he enjoyed his time out there in 2009 so much
that he went back again!
He worked in the charity wing, Hope
Ward, of the hospital which is for people who can't afford
healthcare as there are many people in Uganda who don't have a lot
of money. Therefore they are unable to pay for what can be
simple, but life-saving, medication. Dr Feinmann also worked
alongside a Uganda physician who took over his role when he
returned to the UK.
Dr Feinmann said: "There is a vast difference in
healthcare - out there, 74% of diseases are curable conditions as
they do not have chronic diseases.. But 60% of the population
is under 18 and there is a life expectancy of just 51."