The world is facing many challenges not only the Covid19 health pandemic but now the financial impact is also starting to hurt many people.
Understandably the focus for most people has shifted as they try and cope with the current situation. However, this is felt even more keenly by those not for profit organisations that rely on support from friends and partners to continue their programs for those in desperate need.
Many of the health issues we experience in Uganda are not new as they are current and ongoing and therefore cannot be ignored or even prioritised.
We have taken the opportunity to ask Dr Sam Guma how Kawempe Home Care is managing in the current environment.
Q. Welcome Dr Sam. I understand that currently 805 Covid19 cases have been confirmed in Uganda with no deaths recorded. Which is very good. Why do you think Uganda has managed to contain the virus?
A. As a country we acted quickly and put measures in place to reduce the chances of spread of the virus. The government implemented strong recommendations and standard operating procedures from the Ministry of Health (MOH) like closing schools, a ban on public and private transport and lockdown for non-essential workers for 3 months etc. The social distancing slowed down the spread of the virus and the MOH was able to build capacity to test people with signs and symptoms for the disease. Our President H.E. Yoweri Museveni has been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic and has given ongoing guidance to the public on how the disease can be contained. The country has however started opening up but with strict recommendations on social distancing, personal hygiene and use of cloth masks while in public places. I call upon the public to follow the Presidential directives and MOH guidelines to control the spread of the virus in our country.
Q. Have your clients been impacted by this virus?
A. No, fortunately we have not got any suspect or confirmed Covid19 case among our patients. We have however put in place the recommended screening procedures at our health facility to ensure that we can identify anyone with signs of the disease, isolate them and inform the Ministry of Health Covid19 emergency response team.
Q Has the pandemic affected the services you provide your clients?
A. Yes, our work was affected so much especially in the first two months. The ban on public and private transport made it difficult for our medical staff to get to work and for our patients with HIV to collect their ARVs. Our medical team was however very understanding, and they used all means possible like walking and riding bicycles to get to work. The community volunteers also played a big role in taking medicines to the patients in their communities.
Some of our heroes L-R Hadija (M&E Receptionist), Joseph (Security personnel), Gift (Social worker), Claire (Hostel Admin), Godfrey (Transport officer), Helen (Nurse), Alex (Clinician).
The other major challenge is reduction in local donations like food, cleaning materials etc. by the public for the hostel. This is mainly due to the general economic stress following the lock down.
Several of our patients with cancer, failed to travel from their homes up country to the cancer institute in the capital city due to lack of transport. This resulted in missed appointments and disease complications that may lead to increased deaths.
Q. KHC is currently doing a fundraiser through GlobalGiving and the aim is to raise funds for the New Hope Children’s hostel, which provides accommodation, meals, transport, and care for children with cancer during their treatment. How many children on average each year are supported by the hostel and how important is this service?
A. The hostel provides an opportunity for 150 children to access and complete initial phase of treatment at the cancer institute every year. The average stay for each child is 3-4 months. Without our hostel these children would be unable to access treatment.
Q. Have your friends and partners rallied around your GlobalGiving campaign?
A. Yes and so far, we have raised over US$6,000 from our dear friends in Australia, Norway, United States, Europe and United Kingdom, Sierra Leone and local Ugandans including KHC staff members. We really thank all those who have donated. We have until 26 June 11:59pm ET to collect donations for this campaign. So those who plan to donate and have not done so, please go to GlobalGiving.
Q This particular campaign ends on 26 June 2020 so if people wish to donate to after this date what is the best way to do it?
A. The best way is to visit the New Hope Children’s Hostel website at www.newhopechildrenshostel.org , click the donate button and use your debit or credit card to send a donation.
Q. If you could say something to those thinking of donating what would it be?
A. I think it is probably best said by our clients to explain what our support has meant to them.
‘When I play with other children at the hostel it gives physical strength and allows me to forget my illness for a while’ 12-year-old.
‘I really appreciate the counselling sessions as they give me hope to carry on’ caregiver
‘My husband stopped supporting us when my daughter fell sick, I found at the hostel a home full of love, care and support as I nursed my child throughout the treatment period,” mother of child aged 5
‘Many in my village thought I would die but now they will see me celebrate many more birthdays. Thanks to the hostel I was able to get treatment.’ 14 -year- old.
‘Their laughter will make your heart melt. Their strength will make a grown person cry. If you ever see a child fight cancer, it will change your life forever.’ KHC International Volunteer.
Thank you, Dr Guma.
New Partnership – The ELMA Foundation
In April this year, KHC signed a cooperation agreement with The Elma Foundation to support strengthening our assistance for children with cancer and our Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program as well as general organisation development. The Elma Foundation also provided KHC with a Covid19 emergency fund which has really helped to keep our facility operational. The fund enabled transportation of staff to and from their homes and delivery of antiretroviral therapy and TB medicines to our patients during the period when both public and private vehicles were not allowed on the roads. We are very gratefully to The Elma Foundation for their wonderful support and we look forward to a strong partnership.
Communities Benefit from TB program
This year KHC received funds from the USAID Defeat TB project to fight Tuberculosis in the Kawempe Division communities. These communities are some of the poorest in Kampala.
The project aims to increase access and utilization of TB services in these communities. Identifying new TB cases, involves targeted sensitization in TB hotspots, screening all presumptive TB patients, referral and linkage to treatment support.
Despite the Covid 19 outbreak, KHC continued to provide TB prevention services, care and treatment to people with TB either at our clinic or through private & KCCA health facilities. This was achieved through collaboration with Local council leaders.
These leaders are also helping in tracing missed appointment of TB patients and those without documented outcomes in their area of residence, supporting TB patients on CBDOTs and reminding them of their TB clinic appointments.
TB and Covid 19 have related signs and symptoms. KHC developed health education message’s and talks with the communities that targeted both diseases.
As a result of this united effort 3,566 people were sensitized, 1,350 contacts were screened for TB. 544 presumptive cases were identified with 65 people diagnosed with TB. 100% of all patients diagnoised with TB have been linked to care & treatment.
KHC appreciate the support from USAID Defeat TB technical team in the implementation of the project activities to mitigate the effects of Tuberculosis in our community and by providing face masks to our staff, clients and volunteers. The education material to guide us during the COVID 19 pandemic has no doubt saved people from getting both TB and Covid19.
A great team effort with great outcomes for the communities.
KHC recently received some wonderful news that the Parliament’s Corporate Social Responsibility has donated money to support the work we do for the children with cancer. It is also recognition for our wonderful staff for the work they do to support so many disadvantaged people in our communities.
Below is the announcement about the support.
Kawempe Home Care receives Shs31m from Parliament to support them with cancer treatment
The Clerk to Parliament, Ms. Jane Kibirige, has donated Shs31 million to Kawempe Home Care, in support of children with cancer who cannot afford costs associated with treatment and care at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).
Ms. Kibirige was moved on learning that about half of the children who seek treatment at UCI in a year survive as not all can be sustained on treatment due to costs involved.
The Executive Director at New Hope Children’s Hostel, a subsidiary of Kawempe Home Care, Dr. Samuel Guma, said that many sick children stay for one or two months before abandoning treatment due to lack of food and accommodation.
“The treatment takes about 3 to 6 months on an outpatients’ basis, as a result, many cannot stay for that long to complete treatment,” said Dr. Guma
He said that his organization provides food and accommodation to indigent children with cancer and their caregivers for the period required to complete treatment at the Institute.
Dr Guma said that this has in turn unburdened UCI and parents with costs involved in cancer treatment as well as saving lives.
“We have for the past five years helped over 520 patients with food and accommodation because we realize the big burden that parents encounter since cancer treatment for children countrywide is offered only at Cancer Institute,” said Dr Guma.
Ms. Kibirige commended Kawempe Home Care for their voluntary support to UCI and sick children.
“Although it [Shs31 million] is little, we give it to you to encourage you to continue offering such a good service. I am so happy to know that even during the total lockdown you found a way of reaching out to patients under your care,” she said.
Parliament through its Corporate Social Responsibility hopes to reach out to many more children battling cancer, through its continuous support to Kawempe Home Care.
“You are doing good work caring for the underprivileged in society. In future our staff groups will visit and see the needs that children have; this is a good start of a new working relationship,” said Helen Kawesa, Parliament’s spokesperson.
By Watchdog Ug
Wow it has been a very challenging past few months and it is wonderful to see the support we have had from our friends to the GlobalGiving campaign and also the new partnerships that we have formed.
Thank you everyone!!!