The Government of Ireland, in collaboration with Doctors With Africa (CUAMM), has provided two ambulances to Nabilatuk and Abim districts situated in the Karamoja Sub-region of Uganda. This generous donation is aimed at enhancing healthcare services by facilitating the transportation of patients in remote areas.
Dr. Peter Lokwang, the District Health Officer of Nabilatuk, expressed his gratitude upon the delivery of the ambulances at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kampala. He highlighted that since the district’s establishment in 2018, they had been lacking ambulance services. Prior to this, patients in the region had to rely on open vehicles like pickups for transportation to health centers along the roads.
Dr. Lokwang stressed the importance of these ambulances, especially in the context of the nomadic lifestyle of the Karamoja region’s inhabitants, who frequently move with their livestock due to various challenges, including insecurity. These ambulances are expected to play a crucial role in transporting people and reducing the high child and maternal mortality rates in the area. Over the past five years, Karamoja has experienced one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates, with 750 per 100,000.
The combined efforts of the government and organizations like CUAMM have begun to yield positive results in lowering these distressing statistics. Dr. Peter Lochoro, the country representative of CUAMM, disclosed that they have been dedicated to healthcare initiatives in Karamoja for nearly four decades. Their assessment identified Nabilatuk and Abim as the areas facing the most substantial challenges in providing referral services due to the absence of ambulances. These two ambulances, valued at Shillings 294 million, are expected to make a significant contribution to healthcare services in the region. Dr. Lochoro also revealed that their operations in Karamoja, initially set to conclude in October, have been extended for an additional two years.
Hanifa Kawooya Bangirana, the State Minister of Health in charge of general duties, urged the districts receiving the ambulances to use them exclusively for their intended healthcare purposes. She cautioned against any misuse of the ambulances, such as diverting them for purposes unrelated to healthcare, like transporting charcoal and household essentials.