Today in Arua, Uganda, Doctors with Africa CUAMM officially presented its new project aimed at strengthening the health care system in the West Nile Region and Kiryandongo District in order to provide mothers and children in the area, including both residents and refugees from South Sudan, with the food and health care they need.
The primary aim of the project is to train and improve the skills of the health personnel working in the hospitals and health centers in the six districts involved – a network that includes 257 health facilities – in order to improve the quality of the services available there to more than 2.18 million Ugandans and nearly 1 million refugees, including over 160,000 pregnant or lactating women and more than 564,600 under-5 children. With funds of more than 1.8 million dollars to be spent over a 12-month period, CUAMM and its local partners will work to meet both the immediate and longer-term food and health needs of this rapidly-growing population, including thousands of new arrivals every day from South Sudan.
The West Nile Region and the Kiryandongo District, with approximately 2.7 million inhabitants, have in fact taken in an enormous number of South Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict and famine in their home country. The 19 refugee camps scattered across the area currently host more than a million people, and by the end of 2017 some 1.2 million South Sudanese refugees are expected to have reached the area.
These figures are consistent with Uganda’s open-door policy towards refugees fleeing South Sudan, yet they require that urgent work be done in the West Nile Region, an already impoverished border area where the population increase could pose public health risks. The Ugandan government has therefore identified the need to strengthen the area’s health care system within the general framework of the Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHoPE) policy. Doctors with Africa CUAMM’s project, developed with UNICEF in cooperation with local authorities and presented to all the local actors involved during a two-day meeting (3 and 4 October 2017) aimed at promoting the sharing of data, good practices and project objectives, aims to do just that.
«We launched our project in the West Nile Region and the Kiryandongo District in August», explains Peter Lochoro, Doctors with Africa CUAMM’s country representative here, «and these past two days of meetings in Arua have been important as they enabled us to involve our partners with what we are doing here, and to discuss common goals. This isn’t the first time that Doctors with Africa CUAMM has worked in the West Nile Region: we ran projects here until just a few years ago. The authorities reacted in a very positive manner to our return, congratulating us for the results achieved in other parts of Uganda, and expressing full confidence that together we’ll be able to bring about significant improvements here as well, in an area which in recent months has found itself on the front line in terms of hosting South Sudanese refugees, despite the lack of means».