Living as we do – largely secluded in a generally prosperous community – it can be difficult for us to conceive of the idea that adequate medical care is frequently unavailable to our neighbors both in the “next-door” United States and across the planet. Gaining an awareness of the impacts created by such issues, sobering though these may be, is a necessary step toward remedying them.
In developing nations abroad – especially those ravaged by war or plagued by domestic strife – hospital management and maintenance remain taxing challenges for health professionals and the organizations supporting them. A poignant example: in any given week at the regional referral hospital in Gulu, Uganda, the influx of patients in dire need of treatment can overwhelm clinical staff and drain resources at an alarming rate. The result is an extreme decline in overall quality of care. Persons with illnesses ranging from AIDS to malaria crowd narrow waiting rooms; materials as basic as linens and masks are quickly exhausted; harried doctors, nurses, and student trainees rush between the deteriorating beds, striving to administer help as efficiently yet economically as possible. With such a hopelessly high volume of the sick in relation to the hospital’s true maximum capacity, preserving proper sterility and sanitation becomes a constant struggle. Such conditions appear to reduce the concept of casual, preventative “check-ups” for Ugandan citizens to figments of a wishful dream.
Below is a short clip created by the “Restoring Northern Uganda’s Hospitals” (ReNUH) project group in 2006.
Unfortunately, the organization has since lost funding and has apparently become defunct; nevertheless, the video offers a valuable and moving insight into the current status of Ugandan healthcare provision at the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital. Through continued collaboration with partners abroad, we must work to improve healthcare quality and accessibility for our neighbors, whether they live down the street or thousands of miles away.
Change is gradual, but it cannot come soon enough.