Bulamu Healthcare recently completed its 15th medical supercamp in Kyegegwa district, where the organisation and its partners treated 15,625 patients in less than one week, helping to boost the health of the residents.
Established in 2015 in the U.S. and active in Uganda since 2016, Bulamu Healthcare is a non-governmental organisation that has been organising and running mobile healthcare camps in partnership with Uganda’s Ministry of Health, local districts, and health facilities.
Each Bulamu Healthcare medical supercamp is staffed exclusively by Ugandan doctors and nurses, who make up more than 150 of the 240 total Ugandan staff and volunteers who make such work possible. As a result of Bulamu’s support and partnership, since 2016 has helped more than 125,000 rural Ugandans to receive healthcare free of charge, with an average of more than 11,000 patients benefiting from each of the 4 camps that have taken place thus far in 2019.
“We are very grateful for the great work and services that Bulamu has brought to us here in Kyegegwa district,” said Stella Kiiza, Kyegegwa district Woman Member of Parliament. “I want to make sure that we also see how we as government can synergize with the Bulamu team, so we can continue to better the healthcare system here in our home district and all of Uganda.”
Bulamu Healthcare’s medical organisation identifies partner districts based on their level of support for the mobile hospital camp model, then works with the host district to organize the staff and resources necessary to provide healthcare to the more than 10,000 patients who attend each medical supercamp. This approach in turn supports patients who suffer from a myriad of health issues, including cancer, goiters, hernia and cataracts.
“I am so grateful to the people of Bulamu for the work they are doing. Some of the services like ear, nose and throat specialists or SCAN we have never had before. My only wish is that it can be an annual event because a lot of the people of Kyegegwa have greatly benefited from it,” said Dr Martin Yefta, the In- Charge, Kyegegwa Medical Health Centre IV.
A hospital on wheels, the Bulamu Healthcare organisation has managed to reach parts of Uganda that were in dire need of medical attention due to various factors such as development and poverty that have hindered many of the residents from attaining the right medical services or drugs for their particular ailments. Resigned to a life of suffering; many had given up hope until they came across Bulamu Healthcare that offers free medical services to the locals and in so doing it not only restores the health of its patients but also saves and restores the lives of hundreds who couldn’t find work nor help due to various medical complications such as: Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida.
“I was born with cataracts & this deteriorated as I grew older but I did what I could to endure this hardship and study. This has allowed me to get a job although it is hard to carry out other activities that could allow me to live a normal life like other people with sight,” Richard Turyomurugyendo, 26 is a primary school teacher despite the odds. Through our the organization’s Angel programme he will be qualified to have surgery that would restore his eyesight free of charge.
In addition to the free healthcare services such as surgery, dentistry and optics (eye exams and free eye glasses) that would otherwise have been too expensive for some of the locals to afford, Bulamu Healthcare also endeavors to sensitize the communities where they operate supercamps through health education classes, in order to reduce the risks of residents contracting diseases. This is also very key in fighting health inequalities since “preventative measures are always better than curative,” Gerald Atwiine, founder of Bulamu. It is also more cost efficient for those living below the poverty margin.
Bulamu’s Angel Program Director, William Masereka noted that a lot of the patients lived in pain due to their use of herbal medicines. A cultural epidemic, the preference of herbal medicine over qualified drugs is still strong amongst many societies and this has also led to sabotage of health promotion efforts by both the government and health workers.
“The swelling kept growing bigger and more painful despite the herbal drugs that we administered,“ narrates Olivia kabasinguzi, mother to John Isingoma , a patient admitted under Bulamu Healthcare’s Angel Program with Lymphoma.
Despite the various medical services offered during the Bulamu super camps, the angel programme was an initiative that was introduced to cater for complicated cases that would need outside intervention like corrective surgeries and some congenital diseases such as hydrocephalus. Annually, the Bulamu organization caters for over 500 surgeries through the Bulamu programme and partnerships with other medical institutions such as Cure hospital and Mulago Hospital.
Although the government has embarked on several Health promotion efforts in the past, it is clear that such non-governmental organizations play a key role in bridging the wide gap that exists in the health sector. By offering free medical services to those in the rural communities of Uganda, Bulamu not only ensures that the Health inequalities are reduced but also tackles the various factors that hinder healthy lifestyles such as the use of herbs and poverty.