2016 was a very, busy, productive year!
We have wired money to our partners at the Northern Uganda Medical Mission (NUMEM) for the purchase of 25 acres of land in northern Uganda! This land is the first step towards the establishment of a new NUMEM Health Center, with much greater patient capacity, and which will be constructed in a manner that will ultimately allow for its expansion into Pader District’s first hospital! I will discuss why this is such a crucial step at this time below – but first, our past year in review.
This past year Asteroidea raised a total amount $27,393.81. We are proud of the fact that 95.2% of all funds went directly to our partner programs on the ground in Uganda (2.1% was used for operational expenses in the U.S., including bank fees and transfer fees, while an additional 2.7% has been banked for future use with NUMEM). Our largest expenditure was our Patient Care Subsidy Program. Through this program, patients under the age of five and pregnant women with malaria at the NUMEM Health Center in northern Uganda, have 30% of all their medical expenses paid for by Asteroidea. We contributed over $14,000 to this program and, in total, 2,198 patients at the NUMEM Health Center received the benefit of the program (30.6% of all patients). In terms of total patient numbers at the clinic, 7,178 patients received care this past year. Prior to the institution of the subsidy program, the NUMEM clinic saw approximately eight to ten patients a day; but this past year they received, on average, twenty patients a day, in addition to seeing another ten to fifteen in the in-patient ward. All total, this is thirty to thirty-five patients receiving care every day. Of these patients, 47.7% of them were children. The most common diagnosis at the clinic remains malaria, and these numbers have continued to increase dramatically since the Ugandan government ceased a large portion of its prevention program in the region. In total the clinic saw 3,694 patients suffering from malaria this past year, over 300 a month; nearly 60% of these cases were children. Malaria remains, year in and year out, the number one killer of children in Uganda.
In addition to the subsidy program, we also spent $10,912 US on our Global Health Care Education Scholarship Fund, which is now covering full tuition and living expenses for three Ugandans in medical school in Uganda (with agreements to return to work in Northern Uganda once their education is complete for the same number of years as that which we have agreed to fund their education - namely, five years). We also spent $1,145 US in helping to double the in-patient capacity of the current NUMEM Health Center from six to twelve.
Currently, the NUMEM clinic is seeing an unprecedented and dramatic increase in patient numbers. During this past November, the clinic saw 783 patients (up from 479 last November). The most dramatic increase has been children with malaria. This has also led to the clinic operating far beyond capacity in terms of patients admitted for around-the-clock management of their illness – again, most of these are children with severe malaria who require IV treatment. During November, everyday there were patients sleeping on blankets on the floor so that they could receive the necessary IV infusions to manage their illness. In December, things have gotten even worse. I do not yet have the final figures, but during the first two weeks of this month, the clinic was seeing 50-60 patients a day – with around 20 of them being in-patient (and the clinic only had 12 beds in the inpatient wards). Why has there been such a dramatic increase? We are not sure, but there seems to be a number of contributing factors, two of the more significant being the following: (1) Malaria numbers have continued to remain high since the government discontinued its indoor residual spraying program and this burden has led to the fact that government health centers in the area are running out of medications increasingly often and (2) the community has come to realize that at NUMEM the medications are available and they have come to see the clinic as being fundamentally committed to doing whatever it can to meet their needs (the subsidy program has done a lot to deepen this sense of trust in the clinic).
Together with NUMEM, we have undertaken a two-pronged response to the current dramatic increase at the clinic. First, to handle things in the present, we sent over the funds to increase the in-patient capacity to 20 beds. NUMEM has been able to rent space in a building adjacent to the current clinic where these additional beds will be housed (they are out of room in the current clinical facility). This past month we also sent over increased funds (and extra $900 US) for medications. The second part of our strategy is focused on the long-term. As I mentioned, the current clinic is simply out of room for expansion. NUMEM is currently renting its clinical space. The current situation at the clinic, given both what appears to be an increased burden of disease together with the fact that the community is coming to depend upon NUMEM to a greater degree with each and every passing month, is simply not a sustainable one. To meet this need the NUMEM board has arranged for the purchase of land mentioned above and Asteroidea secured the money for them to make this purchase. The sale should be finalized within the week. We will then be working together with NUMEM on developing plans for the development of a new and larger clinic with the capacity to be expanded over time into the district’s first hospital. We will be in touch as plans for this unfold.
Thank you so very much for your continued support of our work here at Asteroidea and, of course, a sincere thank you to our partners at NUMEM in northern Uganda for all that they do, and for allowing us to be a part of that!
Asteroidea Health Alliance