Bulamu Health International recently wrapped up its seventh medical camp held in Sheema District, the place where it all started way back in February 2015, when the organization officially launched its first-ever medical camp in Uganda.
The organization’s second outreach in Sheema was nothing but successful, bringing together a record number that by far surpassed that of its initial camp held here two years ago.
Despite unfavorable conditions such as heavy rainfalls, long distances and poorly accessible roads, medics in the camp treated up to 7740 patients in rural Shema at the Shuuku Health Centre IV, through joint undertakings by the area local government and the Bulamu team.
The camp, like several others before, was teeming with life as nurses, volunteers and doctors run to and fro, providing medical care and aid to the many patients that thronged the venue; about 1500 a day, with some being helped to give birth.
Other services provided to the area locals included post and antenatal care, male circumcision, dental surgery, health education including cervical cancer screenings and the introduction of rumps (homemade sanitary pads) among others.
“I know people’s lives have been impacted greatly, especially those patients with chronic conditions that were demystified by the likes of Dr Babu Nganwa, who cured these complications and restored many lives through the countless surgeries performed here. People have been tested and have finally found out their statuses which also gives them confidence. We also have had some complicated cases that have been referred to Entebbe or Mulago for further treatment all at the expense of the Bulamu organisation that has taken responsibility for the travel and care of these patients and through this it has also decongested the health centres in the district.” Canon David Kabigumiira, the LC5 chairman of Sheema District, said.
He urged organizations like Bulamu to fight the stigma, saying many are ‘fearful of their statuses during diagnosis’.
“Most people don’t attend these camps because they consider them curative and not preventive; this makes it quite hard to convince many people to attend these camps or volunteer to participate,” Mr. Kabigumiira added.
Jordan Cowan, 27, a Peace Corps volunteer, advised girls to adopt the use of Rumps, saying it will help many girls stay in school and complete their studies.
“We need to be able go back to these communities to ensure that they are taking up the use of these homemade rumps. It is easy and very convenient for people living in rural areas,” Cowan said.
The rump, a homemade sanitary pad is not only easy to make (fabric, needle, thread and absorbent) but also reusable therefore making it very cost effective and reliable, Bulamu officials say.
Also, of import to note, during the camp in Sheema, the ‘Angel Programme’ was launched, to facilitate critical cases that require treatment outside the camp such as referrals to Mulago Hospital and Entebbe.
And as the ambulances the patients boarded ambulances destined for Mbarara or Kampala for further treatment and diagnoses, Prof Richard Chandler, a Director at Bulamu International, walked the media through the new initiatives that include among others, the introduction of Village Health Teams (VHTs) that will follow up special cases in need of further treatment or checkups.
The VHTs, Prof. Chandler said, would also be in charge of data entry and management during these follow-ups, allowing the easy access to medical records of the various patients treated at the camp.
“We want to introduce digital records and software that would be able to transfer information to other health facilities where these patients are admitted after the camp. This is our first demonstration camp and we hope that it will greatly improve with checkups or monitoring and follow ups of these patients, especially the VHTs that will be out in the field,” Prof. Chandler said.
Meanwhile, as the Bulamu organization continues to grow, so does it’s outreach, a development proved by the increased number of camps it holds each year.
The organization, that was joined for the Sheema assignment by teams from EKM Hope Foundation, the Red Cross and the area local authorities, will hold the next camp in March.