The communities of Northern Uganda have been severely affected by over 20 years of civil war. Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps housed over 1 million people during the conflict and beyond, the final camp closing in 2012. People languished in these camps as they lived in cramped, inhumane conditions that bred disease and poverty.
Over the last six years, Northern Ugandans have returned home and slowly been trying to rebuild their lives and communities. They struggle against high levels of poverty, inadequate water sanitation and significant burden from diseases such as Malaria, HIV/AIDs and disability from war.
This is combined with an overstretched and under resourced healthcare system which people struggle to access. Despite the efforts of committed healthcare professionals, many people are still unable to access adequate healthcare due to lack of money, living in hard to reach areas and the lack of resources in the health centres. There is further pressure on the system from the influx of refugees fleeing conflict in South Sudan.
Team Gulu 2018
We are Team Gulu 2018, a team of highly motivated Medical and Dental students who form the Manchester branch of Northern Uganda Village Health Outreach Project (NUV-HOP). NUV-HOP is a student-led, village based health project that delivers free healthcare services to impoverished rural communities in Northern Uganda.
What do we do?
This is the third year that Team Gulu Manchester have participated in NUV-HOP, alongside students from Uganda and Belgium. We will be spending a month in July with Ugandan doctors and local charities, travelling to various health clinics around Gulu.
The medical students in our group assist and observe the local medical staff as they deliver free healthcare services to the local community. The dentistry students who are involved this year for the first time to expand our project will be performing oral hygiene research, shadowing and delivering health education.
We help to organise the running of these outreach days, and fundraise for their costs – which is why we need your help.
Why do we do it?
In addition to facilitating free healthcare services, NUV-HOP also allows us incredible learning opportunities. Shadowing, assisting and observing staff in the local hospital allows us to gain valuable clinical experience. We develop an understanding of Northern Uganda’s healthcare system, the different disease sets, and the challenges staff face working in difficult clinical environments.
Providing health education improves our skills in providing information to patients and our understanding of public health issues. Taking part in a student-led project empowers us as students to make a positive impact on communities in need.
During our time in Uganda we are hosted by local families, allowing us to develop relationships with the local people and a more intimate understanding of their culture and lives.
NUV-HOP is an collaboration between Ugandan, Belgian and Manchester students and encourages international team work and cooperation towards a unified goal.
What is new for 2018?
Getting involved with NUV-HOP, Team Gulu has always endeavoured to improve the long term impact of our project. While different students have travelled each year, we are developing the range of services we help to deliver in a sustainable manner. We have 2 new schemes in place for 2018 to improve and grow the project.
**NEW!!** Dental Services
Access to dental health services and oral hygiene practices are poor amongst the communities we visit. Therefore we are piloting a scheme where dental students will work alongside health providers in Gulu and NUV-HOP to deliver health education on oral health and disease prevention. They will also spend time gathering data to develop oral health programmes for future years, including distributing toothbrushes and toothpaste, and simple dental treatments for the rural communities.
** NEW!!** Hepatitis B Vaccination Follow up
In 2017, a pilot scheme was established to follow up Hepatitis B vaccinations given during NUV-HOP’s visits to different health clinics. Hepatitis B requires 3 doses of medication and it can be difficult to ensure patients return for all doses and are fully immunised. To improve this we established a pilot follow-up scheme with select health clinics and health workers over the year, who work to ensure as many patients as possible that NUV-HOP vaccinates receive their three doses at the correct time.
Our plan for the future is to expand the number of health clinics that implement this follow-up scheme and increase the number of people seen at NUV-HOP’s outreach clinics to be fully vaccinated over 2018.
What services does NUV-HOP offer?
In clinics, schools and nearby villages, our outreaches will continue to offer:
Who delivers the services?
- Ugandan doctors
- Ugandan partner charities
- Ugandan community health workers
- Ugandan Medical students deliver where appropriate
- Belgian and Manchester medical students observe and assist
How much money do we need and what is it for?
In total, we need to raise £28,000. This will fund 15 student volunteers from The University of Mancester travelling to Gulu and the running of 8 outreach clinics.
This sounds like a huge amount of money, but aside from our flights, internal travel, visas and vaccinations, it will also cover the medications, testing equipment and supplies we need to deliver the clinics with our local partners. As you can see from our video, we even need to hire tents when we take this basic level of medical care to remote rural areas.
Please give whatever you can to help us and the people of Gulu. You can support us even further by sharing our project with your friends.