Running a charitable health clinic in Uganda

The experiences and the ongoing challenges and enjoyment of managing a philanthropic health facility. Watching it grow through active community support and helping through coordination with national programmes, local NGO and groups and international like-minded people.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Women and Hope Clinic Lukuli

Joyce Bbosa is an experienced midwife who described at her retirement how she has delivered the village with her own two hands. Joyce, then in her 50s, was working in a two room structure helping children with fevers – whether malaria or not – and helping scared young mothers living in Kampala away from their family support, at home in the village. Hope Clinic Lukuli grew from these two rooms by the work of a women-led committee of non-medics. Small actions by the people living in Lukuli village on the edge of Kampala brought child immunisation to the families; help with oral rehydration to manage the fevers; and access to HIV testing for the pregnant mothers and others to help reduce new infections. www.hcluganda.org

Hope Clinic Lukuli has continued since 2000, and despite Joyce’s retirement in 2004, to become a new facility offering family planning and maternal health, admissions for deliveries, a laboratory and out-patients department. What makes it unusual is that the community expanded the clinic without any expectation of deriving an income from it – the founders are retired teachers, former public sector workers, a shop-keeper, an administrator, a surveyor and an accountant. Social entrepreneurship is talked about in the US and Europe, but in Uganda it is people using their own skills and networks to help others for no personal gain. The clinic has grown in patient numbers and in response to request for services to women in the community. It now caters for child immunisation; nutrition advice and infant food supplements. The reproductive health services range from information to youth and advice on family planning options, the free of charge provision of implants and other FP commodities, ante-natal and PMTCT sessions and continued counselling and support through and after delivery. Through a recent International Women’s Organisation grant, the clinic has replaced the two maternity beds (from the IWO six years ago!) and our mothers-to-be have their own room to prepare and to deliver in.

Hope Clinic Lukuli’s goal is to minimise the physical and financial barriers for women in their own right and as the guardian of children to access accurate and prompt health advice. We maintain the consultation charge at less than $0.50 which is less than the cost of the most basic meal – so hopefully affordable to all. Alongside free immunisation and family planning, we use donations and sponsorship of nurses and midwives to subsidise the laboratory and other costs the clinic incurs to reduce the fees faced by the patient. Hope Clinic is open 24hours a day, every day, with a midwife and a Clinical Officer on duty at night – because that is when the babies come! We deliver an average of 15 babies a month; some to HIV positive mothers, but our PMTCT services means we can protect mother and baby.

What should you do? – offer your time and skills to an existing service near you. Don’t build or set up from scratch, support what the community already uses

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