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The International Medical Foundation (IMF), the charity arm of the International Medical Group, holds monthly outreaches in the hard to reach areas of Kampala, to take HIV & Tuberculosis (TB) health services closer to the vulnerable and less privileged people in the communities.
On 24 March, IMF was in Transami, Namuwongo. HIV is still rampant in Uganda. In countering the spread of HIV, IMF takes a holistic approach that includes: edutainment programmes (to influence the mindset), health education, HIV testing and counselling, deworming, treatment of minor infections, distribution of contraceptives, and free HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) treatment through the Touch Namuwongo clinic.
Figure 1 Doctor's consultation sessions
The outreach in Namuwongo attracted 497 people. In the edutainment skit, people were taught how to identify the symptoms of TB, which include: prolonged cough (for over one month), chest pain, fever, loss of weight and appetite, among others. Those who present such symptoms were advised to visit the health centres immediately. They were also taught to help prevent the spread of TB, through: covering the mouth and washing hands after coughing, and ensuring proper ventilation of their houses, among other interventions. There was free HIV testing and counselling, TB screening, treatment of common infections and distribution of contraceptives.
Mrs. Lydia Athocon, a Clinical Officer at Touch Namuwongo, said, one of the major challenges that the health workers have noted, is possible drug resistance, caused by self-medication and poor adherence to prescriptions. She said the increase of drug shops in slum areas, prevents people from going to the health centres. “The challenge is most people buy drugs as they can afford and they end up not completing doses,” Mrs. Athocon said. “In the long run, it becomes expensive to manage, causing the body to build resistance against other drugs. However, at the health centre, you will be correctly started on the first level drug,” Mrs. Athocon added. Mrs. Athocon advised that Government should continue to ensure proper regulations. “Before one is sold medicines, one must have a prescription and they must buy full course treatment and appropriate referrals should be made, when need be,” she said. Mrs. Athocon noted that incidences of Malaria have reduced due to the government’s free mosquito net distribution programme.
Figure 2 An edutainment session during the outreach
David Samanya, one of the residents of Namuwongo, said, “People appreciate the outreaches because of the group aspect. When one sees that his friend is going, he also goes. They also give us useful information and health education,” he added.
According to the Ministry of Health statistics, HIV prevalence is high among the youth (15-25 years). Prevalence is also high in the older males (37-49 years), mainly because of possible sexual networks.
Mrs. Ruth Ssegawa, the Manager of IMF said, one of the greatest achievements of the Touch Namuwongo project, is the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. Mrs. Ssegawa said that at Touch Namuwongo clinic, they have not registered any HIV positive children born from and HIV positive emother.
The outreach was sponsored by Trocaire, Apar Foundation, Clarke group and International Hospital Kampala.
Figure 3 Porridge was served for the children, during the outreach
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