BUKEDEA – Ms Mary Korle, 54, a resident of Kidongole sub-county in Kidongole parish, Bukedea District, had lived with blurry vision, increased thirst, weight loss, extreme fatigue, frequent urination and soars that never healed for close to 15 years.
She had visited several health centres in the villages of Bukedea and never got treatment for these conditions but like it is with most rural folks; her sickness had been misinterpreted for Witchcraft.
She was one of the over ten thousand people who turned up for free treatment at a health camp organised by the Speaker of Parliament Ms Anita Among who doubles as Woman MP for Bukedea district at the weekend.
Ms Korle and fifteen others were diagnosed with diabetes and given free treatment at the Bukedea medical camp over the weekend.
“I started having blurry vision, increased thirst, weight loss, and extreme fatigue from age of 35. I tried to go to doctors at Atutur hospital, Kumi hospital and Health Centre IIIs and IIs but never got the treatment for this because I did not have the money,” said Ms Korle
She adds: “No health worker ever understood what I was suffering from. And although I visited health centres, sometimes I failed to see doctors. At one hospital, I was told my treatment would cost Shs400,000, which I did not have, and I want to thank our daughter Ms Anita Among for this free treatment medical camp,”
“I had resigned to fate and waiting for death to take me but while I was pondering for the next move when I heard about the free medical camp on the radio and decided to brave the morning showers so that I can benefit from this free treatment,” said Ms Korle
She revealed that at the camp, she was told that she was suffering from diabetes; a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar; untreated high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other organs.
The patients who came from across 16 sub-counties of Bukedea expressed happiness and joy after receiving free medical treatment and medical supplies during a three-day health camp organised by Speaker Anita Among in conjunction with medical schools from across the country.
The free medical camp that commenced on Thursday 15 September saw hundreds of residents from low-income homes flock to Kachumbala, Malera, Kidongole, Kolir, and Bukedea TC sub-counties to access treatment.
And by Saturday afternoon, more than 10,000 people had been screened and treated for various ailments, with much emphasis on non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and cancer, as well as offering free antenatal services among others.
Dr Stephen Ikodet, the District Health Officer while addressing journalists at Bukedea Health Centre IV, said the health camp has helped reduce patient influx at different health centres in the region and will also grant a chance to many who cannot afford basic treatment.
Dr Ikodet revealed that the major conditions include malaria, HIV, Non-Communicable Diseases and some ailments people could not tell but associated it with witchcraft in rural areas.
“But in this camp emphasis has been put on the non-communicable diseases because they are silent killers among our people yet this would be avoided if tests are conducted early,” he said.
He explained that many people in the villages are suffering from diabetes, pressure and ulcers but remain uneducated about the diseases; “educating yourself about diabetes, other non-communicable diseases and taking steps to prevent or manage them can help you protect your health,” said Dr Ikodet.
She said Doctors at the camp told her that she was not suffering from witchcraft as the villagers had asserted but that she was suffering from diabetes and they educated her about the diseases before giving her the treatment.
“I went for the free treatment, I was educated on how to manage diabetes and I am sure that I will be fine with time, thanks for the free treatment our daughter [Ms Anita Among] has extended to us,” said Ms Korle.
When you easily access medical care, it is hard to imagine that there are Ugandans who do not get this privilege for one reason or another. It is, therefore, not surprising that when a medical camp is announced; many get an opportunity to kick that longstanding ailment in the butt.
Ugandans get health services from public health facilities but findings in the latest Annual Health Accounts (NHA) study by the Health Ministry, show that one of every two households seeks health services from private providers as opposed to 13.5 who go to public facilities.
Although there has been a marked quantitative improvement in Uganda’s health sector gestured by a rise in physical health units, including in the country’s remotest corners, a shortage of nurses, doctors and specialists, plus lack of medical equipment have seen many people fail to get timely and advanced health care.
Uganda’s doctor-to-patient ratio is estimated at 1:25,725, with a nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:11,000. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends one physician per 1,000 people.
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Ministry of Health senior public relation officer said medical camps supplement government programmes and it is the ministry of health that clears them.
Organisers were tasked to have a plan for the management of early and late complications including a plan for patients’ referrals where necessary.
In her message, Among commended the medical team for their resilience and pledged support to government efforts to improve their welfare.