Bwindi Community Hospital cares for more than 100,000 people. It is located in the South-Western corner of Uganda, 12 hours’ drive from the capital, Kampala, and 2km from the Eastern border of the Congo. Most of the people living there are farmers or herders who have no running water or electricity, many spend hours each day collecting water and firewood, and most families survive on less than $30 a month.
Healthcare services are in very short supply with many people having to walk long distances to find medical assistance. HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and tuberculosis are prevalent and under-five mortality is 137 per 1,000 live births (compared to a global rate of 57).
Established as a small health centre in 2003 to tackle the lack of healthcare provision and reduce the prevalence of illnesses in this inaccessible region, the expanded hospital became fully operational in 2009. As the only facility of its kind in the region it provides care principally to women and children.
The hospital implements a wide variety of programmes including child health, community health, HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health. It also runs programmes in schools and communities to raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, environment health and sanitation, epidemics and disaster prevention, immunisations and nutrition. Counselling is offered to adolescents and those diagnosed with HIV.
Bwindi Community hospital works to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. Its Waiting Mothers’ Hostel enables high-risk expectant mothers to stay on site, and in the last two years the hospital has made health care accessible to 12,000 children under five. The hospital has also developed a neonatal unit, which has helped reduce neonatal mortality by almost 8 per cent; similarly, the mortality rate from malnutrition has decreased by 10 per cent. Furthermore the hospital has set up chronic care clinics for children with long-term illnesses, distributed more than 5,000 mosquito nets, increased the number of women using birth control by 37 per cent and tested more than 10,000 people for HIV.