THE REMOTE COMMUNITY HEALTH OF NORTHERN UGANDA
This is probably the first ever not-for-profit organization established for the remote communities in Northern Uganda which is focusing on relieving people from the risks of preventable illnesses/morbidity and deaths/mortality. The Northern part of Uganda has suffered a great deal from the impact of four military incursions including those of three military coups and armed conflicts headed by Alice Lakwena and Joseph Kony/LRA. The outcomes and impacts of those upheavals were registered as the establishment of many internally displaced communities, the uncontrollable spread of communicable diseases such as sexually transmitted infections including Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV), tuberculosis and skin diseases. Due to the poor social and environmental conditions that were favorable to other diseases the camps were infested with malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, intestinal parasites, all types of wounds and eye infections. However among children there were more of malnutrition, kwashiorkor and marasmus.
Kids with malnutrition
Children with kwashiokor
A kid with marasmus
The John Bosco Odongo Health Foundation hopes to overhaul the health system completely in the targeted part of Northern Uganda by providing a model community health center and experienced volunteer health professionals to work and provide fee healthservices to the affected population. Since the service will be free-of-charge and there will also be comprehensive health promotion activities the population will be more prepared to make positive changes in their lifestyle including behaviour changes to avoid contracting preventable diseases.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH THE HEALTH SERVICES IN UGANDA
One may not expect what I am about to tell you about the health services in Uganda to be true, but my personal experiences do unfortunately confirm it. The government of Uganda health divided the health services into five sections namely district hospital, health center four, health senter three, health center two and health center one. The striking thing is that nearly every health service has problems with committed staffing, lack of drugs, inadequate equipment and high rate of corruption practices at every level. In addition the poor access to government health services has been promoted by the practice of coruption, high cost to poor patients, poor management and lack of accountability and responsibility by health service workers.
A few years a go I took my two sisters for reprodcutive health treatment at Mulago hospital, a procedure that would make them not produce children any more, and one of the doctors asked me to go and buy an anesthetic medication and bring to him to use as local anesthesia on my two sisters. However I went and bought the anesthetic drug and gve themto him but he never used them on my sisters. The doctor used the anesthetic drug on other women who privately paid some exorbitant money for the similar surgery. It then happened that contrary to the medical ethics and practice the doctor performed surgery on my two sisters without the use of any anesthetic according to my two sisters and they confessed tha they thought they were going to die from shock as the pain cause by the cutting through their flesh were unbearable indeed as they cried in pain but the doctor just continued with the operation. The procedure was even made worse when the doctor never gave them any pain killer and told them to go and buy some at the pharmacy.
Furthermore during my visit to my village home where my parents live without the supply of electricity, some iron sheets that were stored inside the house accidentally cut my head close to the fore head. I was able to get an emergency treatment from a priest residing in a nearby mission. The following day I managed to go to a district hospital some distance away and on arrival there I met a doctor in-charge of the hospital and explained my situation to him. The doctor never even bothered to check the wound and did not offer me any anti tetanus or antibiotic for treating the wound. A nurse who was nearby pleaded with the doctor to assist me but in vain. I then left for Kampala capital city and went straight to Mulago hospital, a national referral hospital, to see if I could get better treatment for the wound on my head. While at the casualty or emergency department a doctor on duty examined me and prescribed some medication which were to be given to me at the same place by a nurse.
Mulago National Referral Hospital In Kampala
When I gave the prescription sheet to the nurse she declined to help me and told me that there were no medicines at the time. I then reported back to the prescribing doctor what the nurse had told me. The doctor then accompanied me to the nurse and instructed her to give me the medications or he would not return to his examination room. The stand off ensued for sometime until the nurse gave in to the order. Afterwords the nurse unwillingly offered me some wound cleaning and dressing, but I could see on her face that she was not happy to carry on with the tasks on me. The services at the hospital was free and I guess the nurse wanted some kickbacks from me before she could give me any nursing services or the prescribed medications.
The behaviour of the nurse at the emergency department in Mulago referral hospital is typical of what one expects from all or most of the other public health services in Uganda and it is one of the bad health practices that The John Bosco Odongo Health Foundation plans to reverse and address once the planned model community health center is constructed and becomes operational in Northern Uganda.