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Lack of health centres worries Bulambuli residents

By Vision Reporters

Added 15th November 2018 04:57 PM

Bulambuli district has 26 subcounties with 25 health facilities; including 14 health centres III, 10 health centres IIs and one health centre IV. When our reporter put these issues to the officers responsible at the district level, they confirmed that they were much aware of the situation.

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Minister Irene Muloni commissioning Hannah Christian Aid Project in Bulambuli. Photos by Javier Silas Omagor

Bulambuli district has 26 subcounties with 25 health facilities; including 14 health centres III, 10 health centres IIs and one health centre IV. When our reporter put these issues to the officers responsible at the district level, they confirmed that they were much aware of the situation.

By: Javier Silas Omagor and Ronald Mugabe

Thousands of residents living in the eastern district of Bulambuli are finding it difficult to access health care facilities; owing to the fact that up to four subcounties in the district have no single health centre.

Bulegeni, Kamu, Muyembe and Buyaga are the subcounties where residents are left with no choice but to trek long distances for primary healthcare attention.  Residents are forced to travel to Budadiri Health Centre IV in Sironko town; which is 13 kilometers from Buyaga and 20 kilometers from Bubufuni.

The residents are also faced with a problem of poor roads in the area during the rainy season. Margaret Nambozo, a pregnant woman in Busamali village who lost her previous pregnancy says she misses going for antenatal services because of the long distance made worse by the poor state of roads.

Local leaders worry that if the authorities do not act now, the near future might see their area run into an inhumane crisis. “The elderly, children and women have given up on their important medical routine because of distance,” explained Mackay Damasco, the Busamali village chairperson.

Bulambuli district has 26 subcounties with 25 health facilities; including 14 health centres III, 10 health centres IIs and one health centre IV. When our reporter put these issues to the officers responsible at the district level, they confirmed that they were much aware of the situation.

“Of course it’s an appalling situation when you see sick women and children from these sub counties trekking long distances for health services or their village leaders come to your office to complain over and over again,” the assistant district health officer, Dr. Vincent Natega painfully regretted.

Situated along the Lamalu highway, Muyembe health centre IV is now the only haven for the population within and those from the neighbouring districts such as Sironkho, Bukedea and Kapchorwa.

Dr. Natega wonders why their request to have this overwhelmingly crowded facility upgraded into a hospital status has not been responded to by the health ministry. He is optimistic that by so doing, this could enable it serve the ever up surging population. “Life is made at home and repaired at the health facility, so what happens when you cannot access one with your community?” Dr. Natega wondered.

 inister rene uloni looks on as doctors work on an eye patient at annah hristian id opsital Minister Irene Muloni looks on as doctors work on an eye patient at Hannah Christian Aid Hopsital

 
Sigh of relief

Despite their agonising misfortunes, these residents on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 jubilantly received their early Christmas gift from Hannah Christmas Aid (HCA), a non-profit organisation based in the US. They handed over to the community a multipurpose state of art project. Located in Busamali village, Bunamutye parish, Bunalwere Sub County in Bulambuli County, the facility that sits on 6.8 acres of land has a hospital, a primary school and a public library.

In particular, the package comes with an eye clinic, becoming the first one in Bulambuli district and the surrounding areas. Initially, patients with sight cases were compelled to commute to Mbale, Tororo or Kumi towns for treatment.

During the handover, in her capacity as guest of honour, Irene Muloni, the cabinet minister for Energy and Minerals, implored Bulambuli locals to own and jealously protect the multibillion scheme.

Muloni challenged the district leadership to support HCA and work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that the health services are brought nearer to the people. The minister lauded the initiative before promising to connect HCA to the national power grid.

Simon Peter Wananzofu, the Bulambuli district Chairman said HCA’s gesture was timely because even his village did not have a health facility, a school and had only one borehole.

Wananzofu was cautiously optimistic that the NGO had made their task simple, but the central government needs to do something. Though still under construction, the locals have pleaded with the project leaders to commence with the health service provision in order to ease their health care worries.

“We are here to serve the community and listening to their voices of concern is paramount,” Vesa Naomi, the HCA executive director told the New Vision in an interview.

Naomi revealed that the block housing the clinic facility was all complete; granting the community’s wishes of having treatment started. She stressed that the team of specialised medics from Romania and the US had already arrived in the country. The contingent is being led by Dr Valin Ardelean, an optometrist.

Cost free services

"In the past five years, I and my team came here in Uganda and through our community tours, we realised that someone had to do something and that had to start with us. School-based clinics are not common here yet are very important in the way that parents and learners can interact on regular basis. It could have taken us millions of dollars to come up with this structure but we never want to charge even a penny in exchange for these services,” Naomi said.

The decision to come to Bulambuli was informed by the fact that most development partners offering the same service always concentrate in semi and urban towns; leaving out rural communities.

According to Naomi, even the health services will be rendered free of charge to the community while refugees camped in the northern part of the country will also benefit from the scheme especially the school going children who will be brought to study in Bulambuli.

"We like this because it helps young people and communities realize their potential when they are healthy, educated and informed,” Naomi explained. “The school will use the Ugandan curriculum but observe necessary international standards required to help our learners obtain quality education.”

The school is set to go operational in February, next year with an estimated population of 350 pupils.  HCA hopes in the very near future to establish a modern state of art information technology (IT) centre within the area so as to help skill learners and members of the community. 

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