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UWA PARTNERS WITH MCGILL UNIVERSITY IN CANADA TO DEVELOP A MOBILE HEALTH SYSTEM AROUND KIBALE NATIONAL PARK

By Charles Tumwesigye (CCAM)
In 2008, UWA in partnership with McGill University and Makerere University Biological Field Station established a small Dispensary at Kanyawara to provide cheap medical care to communities living around Kanyawara as one of the benefits from conservation to communities.

This was through the initiative of Dr. Colin Chapman and Dr. Lauren Chapman long term researchers with Kibale Fish and Monkey Project. The project was borne out of the realization that in rural Uganda, most suffering is not because we lack drugs or technology, but sadly, because accessibility to health services is very limited. For example, it has been estimated that in Uganda, 30% of deaths in children are from malaria which can be treated or prevented.

The dispensary has been involved in distributing free mosquito nets to families around the park in addition to providing cheap medical care for simple ailments like malaria. The health centre is now recognized by the Kabarole District Local Government at the level of Health Centre II and receives some drugs from government as well. The dispensary also receives from time to time volunteer intern doctors from Canada and the US seconded through McGill University who provide free medical care to communities around the park.

Arising out of the success of the dispensary at Kanyawara, Drs. Colin and Lauren Chapman of McGill University, Canada and another researcher Dr. Jessica Rothman from Hunter University College in New York together with Mr. John Makombo (Director Conservation UWA) and Mr. Charles Tumwesigye (Chief Conservation Area Manager UWA) hatched a plan to start a mobile clinic where a van or ambulance equipped with medical kits and conservation education materials will be moving in different villages around Kibale National Park based on a programmed schedule to provide free health care, family planning, health education to the communities while at the same time delivering conservation education to the communities.

The idea is to link the health service to the conservation of the park thereby raising awareness about the need for conserving Kibale National Park and using the free medical service as a benefit from conservation. Drs Colin and Lauren Chapman have helped to raise funds from the Grand Challenge Program in Canada to purchase and ship an ambulance to Uganda for this purpose that is expected in Uganda by October 2013. This is Phase I of the project and further fundraising will continue to raise more funds for Phase II aimed at replicating such a system to all major protected areas of Uganda to have a win-win situation for the local community and conservation. If you have questions about this program or ideas on how it can be promoted and developed, please contact Charles Tumwesigye (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) at UWA or Dr. Colin Chapman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) at McGill University.

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