Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Beatrice Tierney Clinic of Uganda

Medical care in Uganda has been free for all since 2001, but that doesn't mean that the care is great. Government health care is chronically under funded and under staffed. Do much so that patients are never sure if they can receive the treatment and medicine they need.

From the Inter Press Service we learn of one small private medical clinic that operates in the Ugandan village of Bumwalukani. Writer Wambi Michael says that even the poorest residents don't mind paying the small fee to get medical care from the Beatrice Tierney Clinic.

The Beatrice Tierney Clinic was founded by the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children as a sick bay for pupils at Arlington Academy of Hope. It not only provides health care to students of the school but to the surrounding community.

The villagers have taken advantage of its existence to access treatment for their families and don’t mind paying the user fee of two thousand shillings per visit per adult. Children are treated for free.

"That is not a lot of money. Because you can use more than that if you were to visit Bududa hospital," Kutosi said.

Residents of Bumwalukani are also fortunate because the clinic has a volunteer medical doctor working alongside the nurses. A government clinic is usually run by an enrolled nurse who works with a midwife, two nursing assistants and a health assistant.

Wilson Mangoye, a health outreach coordinator in Bumwalukani, and a regular user of the clinic, says the presence of qualified doctor has attracted patients from neighbouring districts who are in desperate search of better medical care.

"Sometimes we get patients from the regional referral hospital coming here for treatment because they are assured of the medicine," he said.

Sam Bulukwa, 43, traveled about 10 kilometres from Bubiita sub-county for treatment.

Bulukwa said he did so because the services at local government hospitals were deplorable, especially for the poor who cannot bribe health workers. Services in government facilities are supposed to be free, but in many cases health workers extort money from patients desperate for services.

"The workers in government hospitals have no passion to serve; you cannot be respected as patients. Even cleaners can shout at you but you cannot say anything because you never know they could (put you in touch with) someone who can treat you," said Bulukwa.

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