On Wed 24th March 2021, MAF carried out a charter flight for Doctors with Africa (CUAMM), an Italian medical mission operating in Karamoja. The organisation was founded in 1950, primarily to advocate for the increase of health services to vulnerable people recognized by the Italian government. CUAMM is currently Italy’s leading organization in protecting and improving the wellbeing and health of vulnerable communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The charter flight was arranged to take the Minister of Health to officiate the ceremony to mark the World TB and Leprosy day which was held in Moroto this year. CUAMM was one of many organisations taking part in the day’s activities. TB is currently a more prevalent disease in Uganda and cases have increased due to the rates of HIV infections also being very high. In rural areas where HIV/AIDS is still quite rampant, cases of TB have continued to rise.
MAF is privileged to support many organisations providing vital health services to people in remote areas. By ensuring that there are good airstrips in these hard-to-reach areas we can help provide essential services to access these communities more easily. Karamoja is one of the most remote and underdeveloped regions in Uganda with very poor infrastructure. Tucked away in the corner of North East Uganda, Karamoja is one of the hardest places to reach by road. The Karamojong seem to always be battling someone or something for their survival. From severe flooding to extreme droughts; from locust invasions to widespread animal borne diseases and famine; from cattle raids and related killings, (which have dramatically increased recently) to tribalism and being subjected to widespread social stigmatism. All these aspects have largely contributed to the region’s underdevelopment.
MAF has recently secured funding to rehabilitate 3 of the five airstrips in Karamoja (Matany, Kotido & Amudat) which have been closed for a long time due to lack of regular maintenance. Sam Baguma flew to Moroto and spoke to Dr Ruth Acheng who accompanied the Minister of Health, ‘I am so pleased to see how MAF is supporting many organisations working in this region’. On hearing about the prospect of the 3 airstrips reopening in Karamoja, Dr Acheng said, ‘This will be critical in our efforts to increase the delivery of health services to this region’. She was particularly thankful for the airstrip at Matany Hospital re-opening soon. She said, “I am excited that MAF are able to do this for the people of this region. That hospital serves referral patients from as far as Soroti’.
After attending part of the activities to mark TB/Leprosy day with the minister, Sam went to visit Matany Hospital and was able to inspect the airstrip in preparation for the repair work to begin. Reopening all these airstrips will have far reaching impact in bringing health workers in and out of these difficult-to-reach places.
MAF is honoured to be in partnership with CUAMM and the Ministry of Health as they continue to protect and provide Uganda with healthcare, even to the most isolated people.
Story: Sam Baguma
Edited by Jill Vine