LUBYA Island, measuring about 10 acres, is one of the 52 islands that make up Buvuma on Lake Victoria. Located in Nairambe sub-county, Mukono district, Lubya has over 4,000 inhabitants.
The island lacks education and health facilities and has no transport network. Lubya has poor sanitation with no toilets or safe drinking water. Chris Kiwawulo talked to the residents who say they have been forgotten, especially when it comes to healthcare. Below are the excerpts:
Nasiwa, who is HIV-positive, says the Government and the district authorities have not helped HIV patients access anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). She says Ibrahim Sebere, the information officer, doubles as her counsellor.
Nasiwa, who operates a restaurant on the island, says she is struggling to raise her four children since 2002 when her husband died.
She appeals to the Government to start loan schemes on the island so that she residents venture into business. Nasiwa also calls for the establishment of an HIV treatment centre on the island so that patients can access ARVs.
The health worker says residents are battling preventable diseases like diarrhoea, malaria, typhoid, dysentery, bilharzia and sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea.
Muzige attends to at least five diarrhoea patients every week and three gonorrhea patients. He attends to over 10 cases of malaria during rainy seasons every week. â€œIf the situation is beyond our control, we refer patients to Jinja Hospital.
The hospital that had been set up on Namiti Island closed this year.â€
he observes. Muzige says equipping the health centre that is already in place would solve all these problems on top of sensitizing the public about how to prevent these diseases.
The Lubya Beach Management Unit operations commander says the Government has not helped them fight illegal fishing practices on the island. Odoi says illegal fishing continues unabated because officials lack manpower to fight the vice.
â€œWe depend on fishing. If illegal fishing goes on, we stand to loose.â€ Odoi accuses the policemen deployed to fight illegal fishing for conniving with the culprits. He requests for deployment of soldiers o curb the practice.
She is a nurse who doubles as a midwife. But when the birth gets complicated or when a caesarean operation is required, Takola refers the expectant mother to Jinja Hospital.
â€œIt takes over four hours to reach Jinja by boat. If a woman is due, she can easily die.â€ But Takola says the island lacks the necessary equipment to check pregnant women during antenatal care.
For instance, she cannot monitor a pregnant womanâ€™s blood pressure because she does not have the machine. She says there is need to equip the health centre.
Takola says the island also lacks sanitary towels as well as immunisation centres for children.
Hajji Ali Ssekitoleko
The Lubya Island chairman, who commands a lot of respect among the locals, says: â€œThere are over 4,000 people on this island, but they lack basic social services.â€
He cites toilets, clean water, health facilities and schools. Ssekitoleko says there are only two primary schools that teach up to P.4 and there is no secondary school on the island.
He says, the primary schools have no classrooms. â€œIn fact one of them is operating in a church structure.â€ Ssekitoleko says the island has not benefited from Universal Primary Education.
The information officer at Lubya Island Beach Management Unit, says many people have died of curable diseases because of lack of transport and health facilities. â€œWe collected sh5,000 and built a four-room health centre last year.
This was after the (Mukono) district administration promised to provide us with drugs and medics. But up to now, they have not,â€ he says. Sebere says the district authorities have not sensitised residents on the HIV/AIDS scourge. The patients do not have anti-retroviral drugs as well as counselling services.
Naigaga, 25, has three children. Her biggest worry is healthcare for herself and her children. â€œAlthough my children are studying in Mukono, they come to visit me during holidays.
They can still contract diseases like diarrhoea, bilharzia and malaria which are common on the island,â€ she says. Naigaga says the situation on the island is doing bad in terms of reproductive health service, which she says has led to the death of many women.