By Alimah Komuhangi
ACRO engineering works limited and El Bueno technologies in partnership with Clarke International University (CIU), Kampala International University, Dental Access, AIDS Information Center Uganda, Marie Stops Uganda and Glenmark annually organize the medical camp.
The 5th annual medical camp in Mitooma District was held on the 27th of October 2018 at Bubangizi Health Center iii. The health facility has both outpatient and inpatient departments; the inpatient section includes a labor ward with adequate beds. The facility is generally clean, has an adequate waiting area for patients; a solar power system is the main source of energy for processes at the facility. However, the facility has inadequate pit latrines shared by both female and male.
A total number of 800 patients were registered, 81 patients were screened for HIV/AIDS and all tested negative, 6% tested positive for malaria out of the 34 patients screened and more than half (58.8%) tested positive for other sexually transmitted diseases such as Syphilis.
Of the 800 patients seen at the medical camp, some were invited to take part in a cross sectional study to assess the community’s health status; 139 conveniently sampled respondents took part in that study. Data was collected using a researcher administered semi structured questionnaire with the approval of the local leadership in Mitooma.
Results: The highest proportion (26.6%) of respondents was 40-54 years, the vast majority 80.6% was female, and a total of 69.8% were in union. The highest proportion (47.5%) of respondent attained primary as the highest level of education. The vast majority (92.1%) earns less than $27 per month. A total of 70.5% reported having access to free healthcare services.
In terms of community health ratings: a total of 43.9% rated their community as unhealthy while 67.6% rated their own personal life as unhealthy. The most important factors for a healthy Mitooma as perceived by the respondents were good schools and access to healthcare services (75.5%) as well as a clean environment (44.6%). The respondents considered HIV/AIDS (63.3.%), cancer (51.8%) and aging problems such as arthritis, hearing and vision loss (30.9%) as health problems with the greatest impact on overall community health. The risky behaviors that have the greatest impact on overall health as perceived by the respondents were alcohol abuse (87.8%), unsafe sex (51.8%) and drooping out of school (43.9%). When asked about their voluntary work commitment in their community, only 61.2% reported to doing voluntary community work for at least 1-5 hours monthly.
Regarding the annual medical camp: a total of 72.7% were attending the medical camp for the first time and reported that the medial camp was to a greater extent relevant in relation to their health needs. From those who payed for their health care, the vast majority 92.7% reported that the medical camp actually helps them to save from what they would be spending on healthcare. A total of 60.5 % that had attended the medical camp at least more than twice, reported that they would continue attending the annual medical camps. Furthermore, 31.7% of the patients that had attended all the 5 medical camps reported that they could attribute their reduced pain and improved health to the medical care and advice offered at the medical camps.
In terms of quality of life ratings: a total of 77.7% were satisfied with the quality of life and 60.4% were satisfied with the healthcare system. Overall, 79.1% reported that the community is a good place to raise children and 85.6% would be happy to grow old in such a community. More than half (55.4%) of the respondents reported existence of economic opportunities in the District, 76.3% consider the community to be safe. However, 77.7% reported absence of support networks while 76.9% perceive that they are individually and collectively responsible to make their community a better place to live. Indeed, 91.6% reported that the level of mutual trust and respect among community partners is increasing with 87.7% acknowledging that there is an active sense of civic responsibility and engagement.
Conclusion: Health camps play a key role in supporting community and individual health through provision of health services and medical advice. Residents of this community have a sense of civic responsibility and engagement for health exhibited through the level of mutual trust and respect among community partners. Aspects relating to quality of life improvement can be supported in rural communities like Mitooma where medical camps are implemented; the sustainability of such medical camps is indeed important in ensuring overall health satisfaction by the patients.