There are many health problems afflicting our people in the diaspora and abroad. In the UK, the prevalence of certain diseases is higher among Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups. For example, the prevalence of tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, and non-communicable diseases are all high among BAME. In addition, mental ill health also affects our people more. The high prevalence of illegal drugs also makes our people more vulnerable. There is also sometimes lack of information on critical health issues and services.
In Africa, the communities we serve are affected by many health problems which are different from those in the diaspora. African countries suffer from a high burden of diseases including malaria, diarrheal diseases, and non-communicable diseases. Child and maternal health problems are particularly acute. Other health problems are lack of access to health care services due to a variety of reasons including long distance, poor quality services, lack of trained personnel, and poor infrastructure, among others. As of 2013, the Doctor-Patient ratio in Uganda was 1: 24,000 while that of Nurse-Patient was 1: 11,000 and this has not improved.
To respond to these issues, IWA provides health information to members and communities in the UK; sensitize communities on various aspects such as work-home balance; create a structure for supporting elderly members and other vulnerable persons in the UK; sensitizes people specifically on sexual and mental health; and support and refer people with long term illness for care. In Uganda, we sensitize communities on healthy behaviours and practices through our community health outreach programme which we deliver in collaboration with other health organisations and government institutions.
Our long-term plan is to improve medical education in Uganda and to build a state-of-the-art specialist hospital in Teso region, Uganda.
Christine Aguti Eye Appeal
Christine Aguti, a young 11-year old girl from Kidetok, Serere – a rural town in eastern Uganda, was going blind and needed a cornea transplant in order to save her sight. A local Newspaper reported her plight and IWA UK working together her lead Uganda partner responded to Christine’s appeal. We mobilised our members, friends and other well-wishers in an intensive resource mobilization effort was initiated.
Initially, it was intended to raise the UGX 7 million or £1,500 which was the estimated cost of the cornea transplant operation for on one eye. This amount was quickly raised and the operation conducted at a local Eye Hospital in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Unfortunately, organ rejection set in and Christine’s body rejected the cornea; therefore, a second operation had to be conducted, thus dramatically shooting up the medical bill.
In the end, the direct costs paid to Agarwal Hospital exceeded UGX 11 (eleven) million or slightly over £2,000. This does not include the costs for additional medications as well as transport and upkeep. Following a successful repeat procedure, Christine is now able to see and read; though with one eye. Although we were unable to raise funds to operate the second, Christine is at least able to see well with the eye that was successfully operated.