Agnes (not her real name) comes from Kengoma village which is 8 hours walk from Bwindi. When she was 16 months old she was brought to BCH with severe muscle wasting and very thin, weighing only 4.7kgs or 10 lbs - less than half the normal weight of a child of her age. She also had horrible wounds and injections abscess. Agnes was referred to Bwindi from another health facility where she had been getting treatment for two and a half months and had not been improving.
After careful assessment by our team she was found to have Tuberculosis, HIV and severe malnutrition.
Agnes' mother is very young, only 18 years old, and she was also HIV positive and had been abandoned by her husband and family members. We took care of both Agnes and her mother providing them with food while at the Hospital.
With our help, Agnes recovered from her wounds and malnutrition and was discharged from the Hospital after 7 weeks. We still see Agnes every month on an outreach site near her home for management of TB and HIV, and have never failed to provide care for her. Although Agnes will have to take antiretroviral drugs for the rest of her life, we are happy that the disease was detected early and she will have access to free drugs at the Hospital. >
We have clinics at the Hospital for diabetes, epilepsy and high blood pressure as well as services for dental and eye problems. The most common cases that we see in our outpatient department include HIV, diarrhoea and malaria. Patients are seen quickly by a doctor or clinical officer, and while they wait they are given education from our HIV expert patient, malaria prevention nurse or a member of the dental team. If someone is ill enough to require admission to Hospital then we have clean (although overcrowded) wards with 112 beds. We have an x-ray machine, ultrasound scans and a laboratory.
The Hospital is introducing a community health insurance plan that will ask all people in the area aged five and over to contribute $3 per person per year to the cost of their health care, and will then pay only a nominal charge each time they use Hospital services. This innovative approach to cost sharing will improve access for all people, including the very poorest, and will enable everyone to plan and take responsibility for their family health instead fearing the cost of health care and avoiding coming to the Hospital.
How you can Help
The cost of providing all of this care is only $5.80 for each person in the area per year. This is a very small amount compared with the United States, where $6,700 is spent annually on health care for each citizen. But this still means that to subsidise the patient contribution towards our services we need to raise around $200,000 each year. Helping people like Agnes is certainly a good thing, but it costs a lot of money. This community is a long way from being able to afford to pay the full cost of the health care it requires.
The Hospital has made plans for a new adult ward with room for 30 men and 30 women, including quality isolation facilities for people with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, and oxygen for people who are seriously ill. We are looking for a donor to support this project. Any contribution, however large or small, will go directly to helping those most in need.