Since March, the Dr Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital in Kalongo has been operating a mental health clinic equipped with specialized medical personnel consisting of a psychiatrist and two psychiatric nurses. The clinic is part of the project "AID 012590/90/0 - You are not alone - inclusive health for the prevention and treatment of visual, motor and mental disabilities" funded by AICS - Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development and implemented by Ambrosoli Foundation O.N.L.U.S. together with CBM Italy. A concrete and tangible response to the health and social scourge affecting the African continent.

Northern Uganda was the territory of conflict in a ferocious civil war that lasted more than 20 years, during which the population suffered unimaginable violence, with heavy consequences on the prevalence of mental disorders in the region. In particular, the district of Agago is the 5th in the country for the number of attempted suicides. Furthermore, the pandemic has further exacerbated the need for psychiatric assistance and mental health support, in fact, in 2019-2020 hospitalizations for attempted suicide increased by 279% compared to the previous year. Before the start of the project funded by AICS, the DAMHK and the District of Agago did not have qualified figures for psychiatric assistance, essential for the follow-up and support of attempted suicides.

To respond to this emergency, one of the objectives of the project aims to integrate mental health into the basic services offered by the hospital, train health professionals and hire specialized psychiatric personnel, strengthen suicide prevention services.

The mental health clinic aims to offer specialized care to patients of Dr Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital, integrating mental health into all basic services.

The mental health clinic is supported by a counselling desk dedicated to mothers and families of people with disabilities, to provide concrete support to families who face numerous problems related to stigma, poverty and the lack of adequate support from the institutions.

In the first two months of activity, 114 patients used the services of the mental health clinic. While the families supported and assisted by the counselling desk educator were 25.

Simon's story

Among the first patients who turned to the mental health clinic is Simon: a 22-year-old boy from the Agago district. Before that he was a brilliant child, capable in school, he learned English, which can't be taken for granted. 

At 19 years old, he began to hear voices, answer them and finally speak to himself, a little inappropriately, chanting words that seemed to him assonant, perhaps in rhyme. Then sometimes get agitated, squirm, feel a little trapped, and try to escape. Now, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia or an undefined form of psychosis, a heavy diagnosis everywhere, but particularly in a country like Uganda, where psychiatric pathology is not known or understood by everyone, where the most common reaction to this type of disease is to believe that they are the result of a curse or witchcraft and the most immediate way for parents to deal with them is to contain the patient by tying him with ropes.

Simon was admitted to Kalongo Hospital at the right time. In fact, a team of nurses trained in the field of psychiatry also arrived with him. Simon has therefore found qualified personnel in Kalongo to give a name to his illness, to think of strategies for treating it and to explain it to family members so that it is understood.

The hope is that the project can grow and Simon and other patients in the future can receive increasingly targeted care.

Inclusive health for the prevention and treatment of visual, motor and mental disabilities: the project is underway, created in collaboration with CBM Italia and funded by AICS.

On 1 January 2023, in Kalongo the activities envisaged within the project "AID 012590/90/0 - You are not alone - inclusive health for the prevention and treatment of visual, motor and mental disabilities" funded by AICS - Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development and created by the Ambrosoli Foundation O.N.L.U.S. together with CBM Italy.

The initiative with a duration of 36 months has the objective of supporting Dr Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital Kalongo, in the expansion and strengthening of services aimed at early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of visual, motor, and mental disabilities, to reduce infant mortality and improve the quality of life and social integration of people with such disabilities. The total investment of the project is €1,468,024.40.

The absence of eye care services in the Agago district affects the quality of life of many people. The first expected result of the project is the creation of a primary-level eye clinic to ensure the provision of eye surgery services at Kalongo Hospital through the collaboration with the local partner St. Joseph Hospital in Kitgum and the support of CBM Italy, a humanitarian organization with solid experience in projects for the prevention and treatment of visual impairments in the countries of the southern hemisphere. Several scientific studies have also shown that diabetic patients increased by 198% in 2019-2020 compared to the previous year. The eye clinic will also make it possible to improve assistance to diabetic patients, guaranteeing them at least one eye check-up a year and setting up a real dedicated diabetic clinic.

Currently, the absence of rehabilitation services and a sub-intensive care unit negatively affect the outcomes of many emergency trauma hospitalizations, increasing the chances of serious repercussions that can result in permanent disabilities or death. To cope, the second result of the project envisages the inauguration of a motor and neuromotor rehabilitation centre, which can be used by people with disabilities and patients in post-operative or post-traumatic rehabilitation and the setting up of a sub-intensive. This activity will be implemented in collaboration with the specialized rehabilitation hospital CoRSU, a historical partner of CBM which provides an intervention aimed at the creation of a training program for hospital staff, allowing for the expansion of the type of surgical interventions and the quality of services for trauma, road accidents and other pathologies that can cause disability.

Finally, considering that the Agago district is the 5th in the country for the number of attempted suicides and that in 2019-2020 hospitalizations increased by 279% compared to the previous year, a counselling desk dedicated to mothers and families of people with disabilities, to provide concrete support to families who face numerous problems related to stigma, poverty and lack of adequate support from institutions. For the entire duration of the project, the integration of mental health into the essential services offered by the hospital will be strengthened, strengthening suicide prevention services and training health workers following the principles of the World Health Organization, with the hiring of specialized psychiatric personnel.

Every time I go back to Kalongo, I realize that I still haven't gotten used to that river of people who patiently and confidently wait their turn every day to be visited in one of the hospital outpatient clinics or who fill the paediatrics, maternity, and surgery wards.

And I am still amazed and moved, as well as in front of the eyes of future midwives, full of confidence in the future.
I believe that Blessed Father Giuseppe has left us a legacy to carry on. A gift to be preserved for the future of our and Kalongo's children, a tacit alliance of closeness, help and sharing between us and this welcoming, strong and tenacious person.


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November 20, the day of the beatification of Father Giuseppe in Kalongo, marks for us a new beginning that strengthens
the sense of responsibility towards his material and moral legacy.

Unfortunately, in consideration of the evolution of the Ebola epidemic, which is affecting Uganda, with certified cases also in
the capital Kampala, in compliance with the alert indications of all the international agencies, the Foundation, while maintaining an
attitude of prudence to protect the individual and of the community, with great regret, decided not to participate in the presence of the beatification ceremony of Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli in Kalongo.



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last June, after more than two years due to the pandemic, I finally returned to Kalongo.
Coming back after a long time was a great emotion. I couldn't wait: the first step as soon as I entered the hospital was the visit to the new pediatric ward, which was enlarged and completely renovated, thanks to those who have helped us with significant generosity to carry out this ambitious project. A department that is finally suitable for children.

The new, large and more functional spaces allow the staff to work better, having the situation of the most critical patients always under control. And
today, all this is more important than ever: the children hospitalized in paediatrics are increasingly often in critical condition. They require great skills, high attention and, of course, a lot of resources.

I met children under ten with no one around, whose only hobby, for those lucky enough to have a bed by the window, is to observe
the world outside. They looked at me in silence, lying in their beds, with their legs in traction due to falling from the trees to pick fruits. Often that would be the only meal of the day. When I asked why they were alone, the very kind nurse who accompanied me replied that the mothers had gone to look for work in the fields to pay for their treatment and to bring them food. Some children can access a meal only thanks to the relatives of other patients who share with them the little they have.


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The youngest and more vulnerable children have been the most affected by the Covid- 19 pandemic in the past two years.

The hospital bed occupancy was constantly over 100%- which means that health operators almost daily had to care for more people than each ward could accommodate. Unfortunately, the mortality data also confirm this dramatic scenario: mortality amongst children admitted to Pediatrics Ward was the highest registered in the past 14 years. In this dramatic scenario, the pediatric staff has always being operational, ready to welcome and assist all young patients, reserving constant attention and care for the most fragile.

For this reason, today we are even happier to inform you that, overcoming the great difficulties caused by the pandemic, we have managed to complete the renovation works of the Kalongo Pediatrics ward, continuing to guarantee continuity and quality of pediatric care.

A heartfelt thanks to Fondazione Mission Bambini Switzerland, Fondazione 13 Marzo, M&G for the important support and practical help of those who strongly believed in our project and supported it.

The new department already hosts many young patients with their families, in a renovated and child-friendly environment, to guarantee the best possible treatment and a safe and quality workplace for the staff dedicated to children.

THANK YOU SO MUCH to all those who helped us to make it happen!

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Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli is being beatified on 20th November 2022 in Uganda, after a two-year delay and a long wait due to Covid 19- pandemic.

We are joyful and grateful for his beatification. We are looking forward to sharing with all of you all the events being organized to celebrate such a long waited moment: it’s a unique opportunity to encounter and remember once again the remarkable personality of Father Giuseppe, who is still a source of surprise and inspiration these days. His encouragement helps us to persevere in supporting the miracle of Kalongo Hospital.

Exactly 65 years after the foundation of the Hospital named after him and in the year of his beatification, I wonder about the future of this extraordinary endeavour, his effort to guarantee equal rights and access to medical care and schooling to everybody. A very vital institution in an area which is now even more neglected, poor and unknown to the world.

The present situation is quite uncertain, it’s a long way to go, and sometimes it feels endless.

These days, looking at the terrible events we are witnessing, let’s not be overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness, which distress us all. Following the path of resilience revealed by Father Giuseppe, we intend to continue our work in truthfulness and hope, doing our best to promote a more honest and fairer world.

We intend to persist in conceiving new growth and development paths, together with the Hospital and the midwifery school, to provide tangible solutions to the needs of the more vulnerable people in the community. This will also offer a better future to these two organizations, which are vital to the survival of thousands of people each year.

The Hospital informed us of their many, significant needs: old buildings’ portions need to be renovated, plumbing, electrical and power systems, together with the waste disposal system – all must be refurbished, to meet the increase in complexity of hospital management and the more efficient standards required. Other needs are: roofs to be remade, an Intensive Care Unit to be added to the surgery, a new incinerator to be built and new clean energy sources to be installed.

These are priority needs, which have to be added to our ongoing support to the daily hospital needs, which in turn sharply increased during the Covid-19 pandemic; medical and technical missions must also be supported and, finally, local personnel shall be encouraged to stay on and contribute to such a challenging mission.

Please do help us to persevere in carrying on the legacy of Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli in Uganda, to let it be known to everybody. To let its needs be known. To allow his wonderful work to keep saving human lives and bear fruit. Not only in Uganda.

A good deed is a river in flood, it runs over the banks, it overflows, it’s overwhelming. It overcomes, everything.

Giovanna Ambrosoli

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"From the very first moment I set foot on the lands of Agago District, where Kalongo Hospital is located, I was amazed by the extension as far as the eye can see of hectares of uncultivated, arid land, shaded only at times by scraggy trees. Lands that seem to discourage even the most motivated to take home a few potatoes for dinner at the end of the day. Potatoes, beans and boiled rice are the daily diet for those who can afford it, for the others there are malakwang and akejo , spinach-like vegetables served with peanut butter.

Nutrition persists as a very ancient problem in these areas, worsening at the end of the dry season when the reserves of the most recent harvest gradually run out. Thus the number of children - but also of adults - hospitalized for severe acute malnutrition increases, as well as the number of deaths.

In Uganda, every single medical exam has to be paid for in advance to avoid insolvency and if the patient can't afford the cost, they simply don’t do the exam. The advantage of the Ambrosoli Hospital over other Ugandan health facilities is that the costs of health services are reduced, thanks to the principle of charity, which is the basis of the mission.

Thanks to this, the patient is required to pay only a small fee for admission to the ward and for discharge, while access to drugs is guaranteed for the entire duration of hospitalization, regardless of the patient's financial resources. This may seem taken for granted in Europe, but in Uganda it is a milestone.

One of the main problems of Ugandan health care is the scarcity of health facilities, that can be even 10 kilometers away from the villages. The delay in the access to treatment is sometimes fatal. It can take several hours on foot to reach the hospital; a shorter time for those people who can afford a motorcycle ride – with "boda boda". The paradox of poverty is the staggering number of patients hospitalized with trauma to legs and feet (who regularly develop infection) caused by the tumultuous journey in boda boda on unpaved roads.

But despite the scarcity of means and resources, the tireless work of the medical and nursing staff of Kalongo Hospital guarantees daily assistance to hundreds of patients who are treated as well as possible. The plague of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis will certainly not be solved in this century. But the dedication and trust that the local population has in the mission make the fight against such conditions a priority commitment for each of us. 'To love and serve with joy' is the motto of the Midwifery School. Let’s try to make it our own, too ".

Elena Salvador, resident doctor in Infectious Diseases, Kalongo, April 2022

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in the last year and a half we have all faced a challenge that we never would have imagined, from which we are finally emerging with great strenght and resilience. In Italy 83% of the population is vaccinated against Covid19. A precious goal for the good of all, especially for those who cannot receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere.

In Uganda this challenge is still in its infancy. Out of a population of 44 million inhabitants, only 0.9% have received both doses of the vaccine, while the side effects of the pandemic are driving to the limit the poorest population, living in rural areas.

Today more than ever, every action implemented by our hospital in Kalongo wants to contribute concretely to the elimination of the gap between poverty and the right to health. This gap has dramatically widened during the pandemic and today threatens the health of women and children in particular.

The data speaks for itself and is of enormous concern. Since the beginning of the pandemic, immunization rates for children have decreased by 29%, antenatal visits by 26%, while the number of premature babies has increased (+ 122%). Maternity hospitalizations fell by 56%, while the number of assisted deliveries fell by 44% and the percentage of caesarean deliveries performed in emergency increased (+ 4%).

Faithful to its maternal-child vocation, the hospital is investing resources and energy to protect the health of women and their children. Because women are the backbone of Ugandan society. Taking care of them, training new midwives, educating women on the main health issues is today even more urgent and necessary if we want to save the greatest number of women and children not only from Covid19 but even more from the main preventable diseases, that because of misinformation and poverty are often fatal.

In this context, mothers are not only passive subjects. When informed and involved they become part of the solution to saving lives and promoting healthy behaviors.

Collecting the legacy of Father Giuseppe also means this: supporting the commitment of the hospital and the obstetrician school for and alongside Ugandan women. For a sustainable and lasting progress.

The right to health can no longer be the privilege of a few, we have now understood it well too, we took it for granted. If anyone falls behind, we all fall behind. Today, to really leave Covid behind us, we need to take care of those who cannot do it alone.

The work we carry out every day aims not only to support the hospital, but also to make it grow; first of all by training health personnel and actively involving and sensitizing local communities.

All this alone, however, would be impossible.

A big thank you to our small and large supporters, partner companies, institutions and friendly organizations who have chosen to support us even in this difficult year and a half. Your generosity allows us to carry out our plans for a more equitable, safer and healthier tomorrow for all.

From the heart, our best wishes

Giovanna Ambrosoli

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