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Published: December 17th 2018
While we have spent time in other people’s homes and experiencing a bit of typical Ugandan life, today was particularly difficult. Chan and Derek have acquired a rural clinic from the ministry of heath which employs one doctor and nurse. The hope was to provide their organizational members easier access to healthcare. However, two major problems exist: the clinic is quite a trek on poor roads and difficult to navigate in rain, second the nurse and doctor only come and open the clinic 2 to 4 times per month because the government is 6 months behind in their salaries. Therefore, people show up everyday hoping to receive treatment and medications only to sit all day and not be seen. They come everyday because they are unsure which days the staff will show up. In the mean time they get sicker without medications that are locked behind the doors of the building. Therefore, Chan and Derek brought land off the main road and hope to raise enough money to build a private clinic, hire staff and provide cliental what they need: access. One major problem with Ugandan healthcare is even though all people are covered by government healthcare, there are gaps in what is covered resulting in insufficient treatment. For example, all people have access to free HIV testing and antiviral medication, but they don’t get free testing to determine how much medication they need or determine if the medication is working. This costs extra. Many don’t have the money to pay for additional tests so they continue to get sicker despite having medication. The main goal of Breakthrough AIDS is to provide training to individuals with HIV/AIDS to help increase their income to ensure proper nutrition and access additional tests. This should help increase the effectiveness of treatment. In the Fort Portal area, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is estimated as high as 65%, so the organization has a long waitlist. The projects implemented so far are: creating fish pods and teaching its members how to develop, feed, and harvest fish; coffee bean farming; and tailoring. The projects are individually driven. The individual completes a questionaire which inquires about their interests and the organization tries to help make it a reality. Thus far, over 250 people have participated in the program which is largely funded by private donations and Chan and Derek’s income. They are excited about their progress, but at times disheartened by the little relief they can provide to the entire community. Being surrounded by the poverty (the average monthly family income is $30 and illness is widespread) and continued frustration with the Ugandan government make the light at the end of the tunnel dim, but I am so proud of their efforts.
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