Visiting hospitals in Northern Uganda is one of those experiences that renders you speechless…literally.
Not just because of the appaling conditions and near corpes filling the “wards”….but becuase of the ghosts of its past.
The hospital I visit in Kitgum was built in 1938. And from then until the early 80’s things were good…they had FIVE doctors. But things fell apart during the two decades of civil war that crippled the Northern region.
The LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) targeted hospitals and health units in Kitgum to obtain drugs and abduct medical personnel.
The hospital treated over 15,000 children and 10,000 adults per month during the brutal conflict and “Night Commuters” would flood the wards every afternoon as they fled attacks by the LRA.
Today, Kitgum Government Hospital is the referral hospital for the Pader and Kitgum districts and is the only secondary health-care facility providing free services for a population of over 700,000 (many just returning to their villages after years of displacement).
Think about this next time you seek medical help…..During the conflict, the hospital’s operation theatre could no longer be used because the ceiling had fallen through; there were no operating tools like blades, supplies like anesthesia and power to perform emergency surgeries….CRAZY…..
But thank fully the ICRC has supported major construction and renovation work on the hospital’s theatre, electrical, water and sewage systems and in the pharmacy, the laboratory and the maternity ward.
But….there is still a ways to go…..