Greetings from the MSF site at Madi Opei, Uganda. I’ve been here almost a month. As you can imagine, these types of experiences are usually impossible to put into words. I’ll be posting some pictures/etc to try and convey a basic idea of what is going on. FYI all subjects in medical pictures have given informed consent.
Where the heck am I? Madi Opei is located in Nothern Uganda in Kitgum District. The mountains at the border of South Sudan loom in the distance. The place is REMOTE. Dirt roads/no running water/solar power/etc. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.
My job here is to supervise the HIV program and to help run the inpatient and outpatient services at the health center. More than 600 patients have enrolled in the HIV program. Over 200 folks are on HIV antiretroviral medicines. Kids and adults. We have a program to help prevent HIV+ pregnant mothers from passing on the virus to their babies. As far as basic healthcare goes, we see from 150-200 patients a day in the outpatient ward. At any given time there are 15-30 patients admitted to the inpatient ward. Mostly pediatrics at the moment. And as we are in rainy season, it is all about malaria. And don’t forget about tuberculosis. And obstetrical care. And snakebites and gunshot wounds and motorcycle accidents and tetanus and you name it…it’s busy.
For most of the past 23 years, this part of Uganda has been ridden with conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (the LRA) and the Ugandan army. To put it simply, the population was caught in the middle. An Acholi proverb best describes the situation, “When elephants struggle it is the grass that suffers”. Consult Wikipedia for details on what went down. Brutal. The darkest aspect is the kidnapping/forced recruitment of children on a large scale. Fortunately the situation is now calmer.
MSF’s immediate raison d’etre here is to fill unmet medical needs and to respond to further medical emergencies.