On 7 April 2021, World Health Day will be commemorated globally, under the theme “Together for a fairer, healthier world”. This year we transport you to Uganda, where our partner provides eye care on four wheels.
The truck's engine hums quietly and brown mud splatters as the truck drives through puddles - an everyday occurrence on the dirt roads in northern Uganda. However, the vehicle is causing a stir in the small villages. It’s a "Mobile Eye Clinic": a clinic on four wheels.
The vehicle, financed by CBM, enables the team at Mengo Hospital to have high-quality field assignments for people living in far-flung, remote, or inaccessible areas in the country. Health is a human right and must be equally accessible to everyone, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that this is by no means a reality. With this mobile eye clinic, CBM and its partner, the Mengo Hospital, wish to reiterate that health care can be accessible and can reach everyone anywhere, even if the nearest ophthalmologist is hundreds of kilometers away.
A variety of health care options
The head of the outreach team is eye nurse Baker Kasirye. A long-time employee of the eye hospital, he knows that "the further away people live from big cities, the more help they need." The team examines 800 people in Pakwach alone. Pakwach, 400 kilometers north of the capital Kampala, is considered an ophthalmic no man's land. The mobile clinic provides a variety of health care options - on board are trained eye nurses, an optician and high-quality equipment for examinations and minor interventions - just like in an actual clinic. The team dispenses medication, administers eye drops, adjusts glasses, and removes splinters. In case of more serious conditions, it refers patients to the clinic in the capital. This is the case for 15-year-old Nancy.
Paving the way ahead
Baker Kasirye examines the 15-year-old who complains of a ‘foggy vision’. Some time ago, Nancy was the second-best in her class – nowadays she can hardly follow the lesson. The experienced specialist nurse immediately recognizes that cataracts are obscuring the girl's view. She must visit the eye hospital in Kampala to replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one. However, for this simple operation, a sterile environment is required. Our partner Mengo Hospital pays for Nancy’s bus journey to Kampala. Just one day after the operation, she calls her mother, who had to stay back in the village to take care of the other children: “Mom, I can see! The white spot is gone! I am so happy!"
Thanks to the new truck, the Mengo Hospital team is more flexible and better equipped for its field work. Even in times of the pandemic, it reaches people in the most remote corners of the country. The in-built speakers dispense important messages about social distancing, proper hand washing and mask wearing.
The mobile clinic plans to visit twelve remote and inaccessible localities this year. This way we hope to transport eye health to rural areas in Uganda at break-neck speed!