"You are not alone -AID 012590/09/3 " is a three-year project funded by AICS (Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development), whose goal is to reduce under-5 mortality in Uganda by improving prevention and treatment prospects for visual, motor and mental disabilities, improving thus the quality of life and social integration of people with such disabilities.
The objective will be pursued by expanding and strengthening the services aimed at early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the aforementioned disabilities at the Dr Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital Kalongo (DAMHK), the only hospital in the district for over 60 years. In the creation of a more inclusive health service attentive to the needs of people with disabilities, who represent 22.4% of the population in the Agago district, the DAMHK will be supported by the historic partner Fondazione Ambrosoli
The absence of eye care services in the Agago district impacts the quality of life of many people: around 7% of the population over the age of 2 are people with visual impairments. For the 1° result, CBM Italia, thanks to its solid experience in projects for the prevention and treatment of visual impairments, will support DAMHK in the creation of a primary-level eye clinic and will ensure the provision of eye surgery services through the local partner St. Joseph hospital in Kitgum. The eye clinic will allow DAMHK to improve assistance to diabetic patients, guaranteeing them at least one eye check-up a year and setting up a real diabetic clinic.
The second result concerns the prevention and treatment of motor and neuromotor disabilities. In collaboration with the specialized rehabilitation hospital CoRSU, a 360° intervention is planned to strengthen the instruments, skills and protocols.
The CoRSU hospital will manage a training program for the personnel of the surgical, orthopaedic and rehabilitation services, which will allow expanding the type of surgical interventions and the quality of services for trauma, road accidents and other conditions and pathologies that can cause motor and neuromotor disabilities. A motor and neuromotor rehabilitation centre will be inaugurated at the DAMHK, which can be used by people with disabilities and patients in post-operative or post-traumatic rehabilitation.
A sub-intensive care unit will be set up at the DAMHK and, the skills and equipment for the correct management of neonatal resuscitation will be strengthened, to prevent serious outcomes that can cause the death of the newborn or permanent disabilities. The set of planned activities will provide a concrete response to the needs of people with motor and neuromotor disabilities and will make it possible to reduce the risk of the onset of disability as a result of accidents, traumas and other pathologies covered by the intervention.
The third result concerns mental health. 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.
The project aims to integrate mental health into the essential services offered by the hospital, strengthening suicide prevention services, training health professionals following the WHO MHGAP principles and hiring specialized psychiatric staff. A counselling desk dedicated to mothers and families of people with disabilities will also be created, to provide concrete support to families who face numerous problems related to stigma, poverty and lack of adequate support from the institutions.
For dissemination and institutional advocacy purposes, data collection will be carried out focused on the impact of gender-based violence in hospital admissions and access to mental health clinics, on the marginalization of people with disabilities, and the prevalence of the main pathologies addressed by the project.
Overall, the project aims to create an important space for people with disabilities within health services, actively involving them in awareness campaigns and launching a strong message of inclusion and non-discrimination. The awareness campaigns, accompanied by the concrete possibility of receiving adequate care and assistance concerning the specific needs of people with disabilities, will contribute to an improvement in the quality of life of many families subjected to discrimination.
The interventions carried out will also continue at the end of the initiative, thanks to the institutional continuity of the DAMHK, which with the support of the Ambrosoli Foundation undertakes to integrate the new clinics created by the project within its ordinary activity, guaranteeing its continuation in the long term.