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Health, Safety, Political Stability and Communication in Uganda

Posted: Thu, September 15, 2016 | By: Volunteer



HEALTH

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discusses the following:

Hepatitis A — CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get Hepatitis A via contaminated food or water in Uganda, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

Mosquito Net
Mosquito Net

Malaria — You will need to take prescription malaria medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria. Your doctor can help you decide which medicine is right for you. See detailed info about malaria in Uganda.

Typhoid — You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Uganda. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you visit small cities and rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

Yellow Fever — Yellow fever is a risk in Uganda. There’s a “Country entry requirement” required for arriving travelers from all countries AND proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for all travelers leaving Uganda. More info on yellow fever recommendations and requirements for Uganda.

Hepatitis B — You can get hepatitis B through contaminated needles, blood products, and sexual contact, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you have any medical procedures, get a tattoo or piercing, or have sex with a new partner.

Meningitis — Uganda is part of the “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa (see map). CDC recommends this vaccine if you plan to visit Uganda during the dry season (December–June), when the disease is most common. (Note: we will be in southwestern Uganda, this is Not part of the meningitis belt.)

Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Uganda, so CDC recommends this vaccine for the following groups:
(Note: Brighter Brains Institute will research this provide further advice)

  • Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities (such as camping, hiking, biking, adventure travel, and caving) that put them at risk for animal bites.
  • People who will be working with or around animals (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and researchers).
  • People who are taking long trips or moving to Uganda
  • Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.

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BBI's Jane Shrimpton Clinic In Kahendero
BBI’s Jane Shrimpton Clinic In Kahendero

Clinics and Hospitals

Brighter Brains Institute (BBI) has set up twelve “Level 1” clinics in the area; these can provide free service to volunteers for minor health issues they might contract (indigestion, infections, etc.) There are also Level 2 and Level 3 clinics in Kasese and Kyarumba.

For more acute problems, there’s Kagando Hospital — 39 minutes from Kasese, 34 minutes from Kyarumba. This institution is connected to a non-profit in Dorset, Vermont; a non-profit in West Sussex (United Kingdom), the Fistula Foundation, and the Anglican Church. It is “a favorite choice for Ugandan medical students and foreign medical students.”

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POLITICAL UNREST ? CRIME ? GENERAL INFORMATION

Kasese District - where BBI’s projects are located - is in southwestern Uganda. The area has great natural beauty; it includes Lake George and Lake Edward, the Ruwenzori “Mountains of the Moon”, three spectacular national parks (Queen Elizabeth, Ruwenzori, and Kibale Forest), and rich agricultural land. More than 60% of the area is National Parks. The region is an international destination for adventure travelers; tourists are a valuable source of income here, happily welcomed and treated with appreciation. Additionally, there are many humanitarians and NGO workers here, who are also regarded very favorably.

Bamboo Forest in Rwenzori National Park
Bamboo Forest in Rwenzori National Park

Yoweri Museveni seems to be installed as “President for Life” in Uganda - he’s been in power for thirty years, following his leadership in overthrowing Milton Obote and the notorious dictator Idi Amin. Although Museveni is (rightfully) accused of corruption he has guided Uganda to relative social stability and impressive economic growth. From 1989-2013 its growth rate was 6.56%, the 11th fastest in the world.

Despite this, the GDP is only $675 and average life expectancy is a mere 55 years. Another troubling statistic is Uganda’s fertility rate is 5.96 children per woman; the population has soared from 6.8 million in 1960, to 39 million today.

Uganda has border difficulties, and tribal conflicts, in some regions. In the north, South Sudanese refugees are streaming across the border. In the northeast, the heavily-armed, cattle-herding Karamajo tribe is resisting the government’s “anti-pastoral” policies. Kasese has a long border with the strife-ridden Democratic Republic of the Congo, (DRC) and has been subjected to occasional attacks by the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces); BBI activities aren’t close enough to that border to pose any risk.

Flag of the Ruwenzururu Kingdom
Flag of the Ruwenzururu Kingdom

The BaKonzo tribe is the main ethic group that BBI activities are associated with. They occasionally have land disputes with other tribes, like the BaToro and the Basongora, but these disagreements don’t involve muzungus (white people). The BaKonzo have an unique and colorful history — through struggle they have established their own quasi-autonomous “Ruwenzori Kingdom” with its own flag and national anthems.

Americans aren’t targeted for crime in Uganda, or in Kasese district. They are treated with great courtesy and they’re probably safer here, than they are in many large urban US cities.

One danger in Uganda that BBI strives hard to avoid is traffic accidents. Uganda is one of the worst nations to drive in, due to inadequate road maintenance, drunk drivers, and scarce street lighting. To safeguard ourselves we Never drive at night, and we primarily travel in large 15-18 passenger buses.

COMMUNICATION

There are internet cafes in Kasese and Kyarumba; there’s an internet cafe at the Whitehouse Hotel where we’re staying 70% of the time; there’s access at Kasese Humanist Primary School. Cell phones are everywhere; more than half of Ugandans have cell phones, an impressive statistic when you realize this number matches everyone age 15 and older. ATT offers “Global Packages” allowing users to call or text from abroad; Verizon also offers a TravelPass plan.



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