Ugandan Medical System

by Madelaine Thiel

Development and Partnership Coordinator

I have had some personal experience with the Ugandan medical system.  I was hit by a motorcycle some weeks back and I am on the mends, but saw some interesting aspects of the health care system.  As a side note-let this be a lesson about the importance of travel insurance.

After the collision I was driven to the local hospital where I was prescribed a lot of painkillers.  Ugandan doctors hand out antibiotics like candy.  Granted, I was missing some patches of skin, but I thought the blood infection antibiotics were a bit much.  I was prescribed some ibuprofen as well.  My doctor came into the office with two avocados.  As I was waiting in the car after my appointment, he saw me and came by to wish me a speedy recovery.  He gave me one of the avocados.

Upon my arrival home, the power was out which was another sign that this was not my day.  My project coordinator put me on strict bed rest.  As I discovered that weekend, ice is surprisingly difficult to come by in rural Uganda when there is a sketchy power supply.

I went to Kiwoko hospital a few days later to get X-rays to ensure there was no bone damage.  I am happy to say there is none.  I found a couple of things strange about the medical system here.  I like that I got a sheet of paper recording all my previous drug prescriptions and all the treatment on the matter until now.  When I have stopped into clinics in Canada they don’t seem to pay such attention to previous care.  Maybe my experience is just an exception to the rules.  I was also caught off guard by how much say I had in the matter.  They asked me what I wanted.  I was offered more painkillers, more antibiotics, and a couple of other scary looking pills.  Overall this was not a bad introduction to the medical system.

I am now looking into physiotherapy.  It is a rarer service and I am not sure many people from this district have access to it.  I was surprised however, that most practitioners seem to work either out of a hospital or have a private practice where they travel to you to work on your body in your living room.  I guess the demand is not there to justify a sports rehabilitation clinic!  I have an appointment later this week to work on my knee.  I am excited to see what this fellow has to offer and to see how we can work together.  I am hoping to see this fellow a few times before I get on a nine hour flight.  Overall, this has been a relatively smooth process of recovery.

A word of caution to those traveling this way: Look both ways before crossing the street and always hold hands. Also-accept the fact that some people are crazy drivers and you have to pay for it.

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