Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 20% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. Since the 1980s an internal conflict between the government and the rebel movement Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has caused an overwhelming number of people, estimated at 1.8 million at the height of the crisis, to flee for their lives and move to internally displaced person’s camps, with no means of livelihood.
According to the World Health Organization and the World Bank (2014-2015), life expectancy at birth in Uganda is estimated to be 58.5 years, and the infant mortality rate is approximately 38 deaths per 1,000 live births. There are only 12 doctors per 100,000 people (In Israel for comparison, there are 382 doctors per 100,000 people).
The Kiboga district in central Uganda is especially poverty-stricken, with 35% of the population living on less then $1.25 a day. As a result, the district suffers from a higher rate of health problems, such as malnutrition, high infant morbidity and mortality rates, and a high rate of communicable diseases such as malaria, parasites, respiratory tract infections, AIDS and tuberculosis.
Life expectancy is low in Kiboga, and stands at 44 years, far below the national average. The infant mortality rate is much higher than the national average and stands at 109 for every 1,000 live births, 12% of them because of malnutrition. More than 9% of the district population has HIV (national average stands at 7%) and to many, medical treatment is inaccessible because they live too far from any medical center.
The medical directors of the district have great difficulty in rectifying these problems as there is only one doctor for every 60,000 people, one midwife for every 1,060 women of childbearing age, and around 5,800 people for every medical clinic. There is only one hospital in the district. Apart from the hospital there are 33 government medical clinics in the district, operated by nurses and medical personal with basic training, without any additional doctors.
The health authorities, with the help of international aid organizations, are attempting to improve the population’s welfare and the access to medical care. Since 2001, treatment in government health facilities in Uganda is free of charge, and free HIV medications are more widely available, national child vaccination programs are at play, and attempts are made to develop a community network of health volunteers and health education; however, due to the severe lack of resources and manpower, as well as limited access of a major part of the population to health facilities, the possibilities for treatment and quality of care are very limited.
As part of our project we work side-by-side with the local doctors and administration to achieve the goal of improving the overall health of the population and access to medical care.