Health experts are urging the government to initiate medical camps at health centers, staffed with teams of healthcare professionals, as a means of alleviating the daily pressures on healthcare services,” advised Dr. Rosemary Byanyima, the acting Executive Director of Mulago National Referral Hospital.
She made this call to action during a two-day AMDA Caravan Medical Camp in Ibanda District, organized by the Archdiocese of Mbarara Development Association (AMDA). Thousands of people from nearby villages lined up in long queues to receive free medical attention and advice.
“We have a unique opportunity to make a real impact on the health of our communities,” Dr. Byanyima emphasized. “Medical camps would help the Ministry of Health assess the extent of diseases in local communities, and I encourage people to attend such events regularly and seek medical attention even before they fall ill. This proactive approach can lead to early disease diagnosis and better treatment outcomes.”
Dr. Cresent Tumuheise, the Chairperson of AMDA Medical Council, also highlighted the significance of health camps in addressing healthcare challenges, stating, “When I see the substantial turnout of people seeking free medical attention, it demonstrates the effectiveness of health camps in addressing the healthcare challenges faced by communities.” He suggested that lower health centers should consider organizing similar medical camps periodically.
During the AMDA medical camp, a total of 9,334 patients received free medical care. Among them, 385 individuals were screened for cancer and tuberculosis, 89 underwent eye surgeries, and 567 underwent dental surgeries.
Dr. Criscent pointed out that a pre-camp survey revealed that people reported cases of cancer, tuberculosis, and dental challenges at health centers. These diseases are preventable and treatable when detected early, but the lack of awareness and resources in communities is taking a toll.
“We visited the communities with significant healthcare needs,” Dr. Criscent noted, “and our efforts are making a difference in detecting and treating diseases like cancer and tuberculosis.”
Julius Bamwine, the Ibanda District Health Officer, highlighted the grim reality of the district, stating, “The district registers more than 500 new cases of cancer and tuberculosis each month.
This situation contributes significantly to drug shortages, as the district receives medicine supplies from the central government that can only cover about 20 to 30 percent of the patients.” Consequently, some patients are compelled to purchase expensive drugs from private healthcare providers.
Chris Gumisiriza, the Chairperson of AMDA, disclosed that the association had allocated over 400 million shillings for drug purchases. Unused drugs were distributed to Kagongo Hospital, Ibanda Ruhoko Health Center IV, and Ibanda Secondary School.
His Grace Lambert Beinomugisha, the Archbishop of Mbarara Archdiocese, commended the faithful for their charitable work during the AMDA Caravan 2023 and encouraged Catholic parishes to visit one another to share and learn from each other’s experiences.