St. Francis Health Center
Making Significant Progress but Still In Need of Much Help
St. Frances Health Center in Anaka, according to Sr. Liberata, Diocesan Health Coordinator, is the most disadvantaged of the 10 health facilities in the Archdiocese of Gulu. “It was started basically during the civil war in the north, as a result of the inadequate medical services in the region, especially for the schools and the Internally Displaced People in the parish. It was mainly providing dispensary and curative services. “ Some of their challenges include limited space, poor staff accommodations, drug shortages and patients who can afford very little for user fees. They receive very little from government grants compared to other health centers and have not met the criteria for the support of donors like NU HITES.
Despite all these obstacles, St. Francis has made significant progress this year. GuluHelp provided support to pay for a midwife so that antenatal care could be provided. Both a midwife and an enrolled nurse were recruited and a new space was created for ANC. When I visited, this year, many patients were being treated and 5 staff members were employed, while last year, even the single staff member was absent because no patients had been coming dues to lack of medications. Additionally, a new site for the center was acquired and allocated by the community for new constructions when funding can be obtained. GuluHelp would like to be instrumental in helping St. Francis to reach criteria needed to obtain help from NU HITES or other donors that incentivize improved performance.
Both St. Mauritz Health Center in Gulu and St. Joseph’s in Minakulu, have performed well enough to be granted some assistance from NU-Hites (Northern Uganda- Health Integration to Enhance Services). GuluHelp is at least partially instrumental in this achievement and we are pleased that this organization will continue to evaluate their performance and provide incentives for continuous improvement.
Staff Support for HealthCenters
St. Joseph Health Center in Minakulu
Inspired and impressed by the sacrifice and dedication of the staff at St. Joseph’s Health Center, GuluHelp’s initial and primary intervention has been in healthcare support. Most of the staff had endured for almost one year in a spirit of service without receiving their pay. Thus, GuluHelp intervened at a critical moment.
The nominal user fees hardly meet the basic operational needs, yet the center offers a great service to the community. Other needs of the Health center include improving the provisions for pre and post natal as well as delivery care.
Fr. Jino greets children of staff members
St. Francis Health Center in Anaka
In May 2008, we visited Anaka health center, which is technically in the same category of health centers as Minakulu, but structurally is no where near!
The entire center is no bigger than a hotel room at the holiday inn, with grass partitions used as walls and a large metal storage tank used as a laboratory (Ugandans are resourceful!)
This health center had no microscope which is a very necessary tool for everyday servicing.
GuluHelp provided this $1500 microscope in June 2009.
Counseling Institute in Gulu
By Fr. JIno Mwaka
When, in 2003 (June 22 – 25th) Archbishop John Baptist Odama of the Archdiocese of Gulu led his fellow Religious Leaders (Anglican Communion, Moslem Faith and Orthodox) to spend four nights out in the cold in solidarity with the “night commuters” in the open spaces in the Bus station in Gulu, the world’s attention was then seriously raised to the devastating impact that the war/insurgency in Northern Uganda. Thereafter many journalists and stories (for example Dateline – aired on Aug 22, 2005 on NBC, The Invisible Children, etc.) brought to light the horrific experiences that the ordinary people were experiencing for about 17 years. The Religious Leaders (Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative) continued to be a voice for peace and reconciliation in the region.
Since around 2006, there has been significant improvement in the security situation and the people have embarked on the process of rebuilding their lives. However, the effects and the trauma of the more than two decades of war, in which the people have experienced forced abductions, particularly of the children, brutal killings and mutilations, destruction of homes and property, displacement into camps where people lived in deplorable conditions, living in constant fear, and the humiliation of parents and families continue to haunt the people of the region.
These constitute not just human challenges but also pastoral challenges for ministry in the region. In embracing the challenge, the Archdiocese of Gulu is working to provide basic counseling skills to improve the effectiveness of all pastoral agents and social workers in the region. It is also embarking on, among others, preparing professionally prepared counselors to serve the great needs of the region. This college level program will begin at the University of the Sacred Heart. Our unique focus would be the health of mind and hearts for holistic development, integrating psychosocial health and ethical values as important tools in rebuilding the war torn region.
We see this as part of our ministry to promote peace, healing, understanding and collaboration among our people. We believe that this will be of great service not only to Ugandans, but also to our neighboring countries that have shared similar experiences.
If you would like support this initiative in any way, please contact me. We appreciate the prayers and support.
Fr. Jino Mwaka
Archdiocese of Gulu
Counseling Institute/University Project
or visit cushg.org