STORIES FROM UGANDA
How I came back to Uganda, got in the car with twelve people, showered outside and treated more than 1,300 people in four days
The last time I left Uganda, it never occurred to me that I would not return again after such a long time. But finally, after more than a year, I get off the plane and I am greeted by the words "Welcome to the Pearl of Africa". And with it, hundreds of mosquitoes and immediately popping bites make me feel like I've never left.
Of course, it is necessary to plan such a medical trip several months in advance, but the biggest chaos is always just before departure. That's why the next morning I set off on a boda-boda motorcycle behind Stephen and Bob, with whom we try to figure out how to manage it all. In two days we managed to pick up T-shirts, clothes for doctors and masks with our logo, have hundreds of vaccination cards and forms for patients made, get vaccines, vitamins and of course buy laboratory tests, medicines, disinfectants and other supplies from the pharmacy. We even managed to sign a contract there in such a short time and thus guarantee better prices in the future. Finally, we picked up the car from the rental. We filled it with a pile of boxes, picked up the rest of the team and left for Kampala on Tuesday morning.
The way to Nebbi is not the shortest, and I think I will have some bruises from the crumbling car for a long time. After the whole day, we finally arrived at the house, where we will spend another five days. There is no electricity and water. Instead of a toilet, we have a latrine and we shower outside, under the stars. Another quick meeting with the local mayor to describe how we will take care of the people in his community in the coming days. Then all that remains is to redistribute the drugs and materials, and we lie down in bed around midnight.
If the storm had not caught us, we would not even have had time to treat all the patients
The alarm rings at five o'clock every morning. We get up quickly to prepare everything in time and start treating as soon as possible. The essentials are a place for patient registration, space for immunization and preventive services, and then each doctor has also assigned his or her desk. The laboratory, as the only one, is always located inside, to prevent dust contamination of the tests. The last place where patients meet us is at the dispensary.
Our trip and the whole adventure begins in Pawong. We settle in a local school, however, except doctors and laboratory technicians, others work outside in the fresh air. In the beginning, paradoxically, I am a little disappointed, because I expected a bigger influx of patients. But then I find out that there is a market today and most people have set out to obtain food. One of the locals calms me down, "Don't worry, everyone will come later when they return home." And he was right. If it wasn’t for a storm that caught us afterwards, we probably wouldn't even have enough time to treat everyone. We distribute the last medicaments in the dark. Before we pack everything and get back to the hostel, the eighth evening strikes.
"I think I've heard of Europe before."
The next day we move to Jupangire. They have a very simple medical facility here. For us, however, these are above-standard conditions, because each doctor has his/her own examination room and one even has a gurney. In the afternoon, it gets so warm inside that we move outside and I suddenly prescribe under the mango tree and a pleasant cold wind blows on the back of my neck. We finish at six. We also take our translators home, and suddenly there are twelve passengers in the car instead of the original seven.
On the third and fourth day, we prescribe at Goli Mixed School. According to the instructions broadcast by the radio, people are divided into groups according to their place of residence in advance and know which day to arrive. Right away in the morning, we are greeted by a nice janitor. When carrying tables, he asks me where I am from. I answer that from Slovakia and just in case add Europe. "I think I've heard of Europe before," he says thoughtfully. While prescribing medication and dressing wounds, we are sometimes distracted by hens, who cheerfully walk around us at the schoolyard. In the afternoon, however, the downpour starts again and the hens and we run to hide. We prescribe inside for the rest of the day.
They get up at four in the morning and walk thirty kilometers, just to get help
On the last day, you can see that everybody is tired. Even more when we see the queue of 30 patients. Denis, who helps us organize the locals, immediately explains: “Those people live about thirty kilometres away. They heard about us on the radio, so they came. " I can't believe someone was walking such a distance. Denis then just surprises me with the sentence: "They got up at four in the morning to be the first to make it here." Thanks to that, we catch our second breath. Because that's exactly why we organize our trips. Because some people really have no choice but to walk thirty kilometres to get some help.
During our four-day trip, we provided a total of 3291 procedures. 1396 people were treated by a doctor. As part of the prevention program, we gave 1033 people deworming tablets. 554 children received vitamin A from us, the deficiency of which most of them suffer from here. And last but not least, we vaccinated more than 308 people. All this thanks to our supporters and cooperation with the Ministry of foreign affairs. And that's just the beginning. The next outreach awaits us in a month. And we can't wait.