Maternity Care in Awake!
April 14, 2017 Update
While pre- and post-natal care and safe labor practices are much more common in Northern Uganda today than in the past, Julius’ home district remains in dire need of improved maternal services. So AUCF is stepping up to the challenge.
After consulting with USAID officials, our team in Uganda has determined that we can subdivide one of our existing structures, the James Fee Memorial Patient Ward, thereby establishing a separate — and sterile — labor and delivery facility. We will also hire a licensed midwife, who will team with our current staff to provide a full range of services to expectant and new mothers.
Thanks to the support of friends in the U.S. and Australia, we are thrilled to move on to this important new phase in the growth of our organization!
Water for our Staff and our Patients
June 1, 2015 Update
Thanks to contributions of AUCF supporters totaling over $35,000, water now runs directly to the Kristina Health Center. Faucets and spigots ensure sanitary operation and treatment, but also help our staff to work and live more efficiently and comfortably. Finally, bringing running water directly to the treatment rooms in the clinic is a crucial aspect of operating a maternity ward — the next step in KHC’s growth.
A Sustainable Place to Work and Live for our Dedicated Staff
February 25, 2014 Update
With KHC fully operational and serving dozens of patients every day, our team of medical and administrative professionals remains committed to their jobs — but they’re also feeling the stress of toiling in high-stress roles nearly every day. The next phase of AUCF’s work in Awake is thus to ensure their satisfaction and comfort, and thus their ability to perform their lifesaving work.
To keep up with the clinic’s growing demand, and thanks to the generosity of our supporters around the world, AUCF has committed to hiring an additional six staff members. We will offer these new team members what we offer all clinic staff: a modest, but comfortable place to stay. We have thus committed to doubling the size of our staff quarters.
Apart from this new construction, we are focusing our efforts on ensuring that our clinic is operating efficiently and effectively. While we will likely expand the scope of our work in the coming years, we’ll first take steps to safeguard power and water availability (the current resources, solar and a nearby well, are practical but not optimal); to furnish all buildings more fully and comfortably; and to employ medical equipment that will allow our Awake team to treat their patients with even greater care and effectiveness.
Phase II Expansion to KHC
July 2, 2013 Update
Announcing Kristina Health Center (KHC) Phase II construction to expand our treatment capacity.
Construction of an 18 bed patient ward began in early April 2013 via a staff of 19 workers, two supervisors and an architect – all Ugandan. Un-skilled workers come from Awake where Kristina Health Center is located; skilled workers reside in Lira, 42 miles away, but live on the health center site during construction.
With the exception of a truck delivering construction materials, the ward is built 100% by hand – no gas or electric powered machinery. The workers began by digging the foundation.
KHC treats an average of 500 patients every month, many of them traveling several kilometers by foot or bicycle. The severity of their conditions and the distances they travel often require them to remain at KHC overnight, perhaps before being transferred to Lira Regional Hospital. Today, these patients typically spend nights in converted clinic rooms, the KHC lobby or even local villagers’ huts.Upon completion of the KHC 18 bed medical ward, patients can spend their nights in relative comfort while also increasing the overall treatment capacity of the clinic. We will also hire additional staff to manage this expanded scope of service.
Once the ward is finished, KHC Phase II will also include construction of a second living quarters to accommodate our growing staff of permanent and volunteer medical personnel. Staff who might otherwise commute two hours each way from Lira will now have a place to live on campus, and will thus be able to treat patients even more efficiently, while volunteers providing care in specialized medical areas and dentistry will have dedicated living quarters while in Awake.
Kristina Health Center
December 10, 2012 Update
Kristina Health Center opened its doors to the community and began treating patients on October 2, 2012. As the month of December opens, over 1,000 patients have been seen and treated. Prior to the clinic opening, patients were required to travel, in the best of cases four miles – and frequently more than forty – for the treatment required.
The Health Center consists of a ten room clinic, with consultation and treatment rooms, a laboratory, pharmacy, office, lobby and shaded veranda. Clean water is obtained on the KHC campus via a deep bore-hole well, electricity is available via solar power and KHC is furnished with essential medical equipment, supplies and medicines. A medical staff of five, living on campus in an adjacent living quarters, sees patients Monday through Friday, and on an emergency basis over the weekend. KHC provides primary medical care including triage and appropriate treatment, disease testing, inoculation, medication dispensing and education. The all-Ugandan staff is comprised of clinic manager, senior clinical officer, comprehensive nurses (2) and laboratory technician/HIV counselor. We anticipate in the future US and Australian based doctors, dentists and nurses will visit for both short and extended periods assisting the local staff.
Patients begin arriving at dawn, and some times the night before, and are seen on a first-come first-served basis, with the exception of emergency patients. Patients traveling (on foot or bicycle) up to 20 kilometers for treatment are not uncommon. Local Otuke District healthcare officials have utilized KHC for blood testing and inoculations. Vaccines requiring refrigeration are available for inoculation due to the only refrigerator/freezer in the district healthcare network.
Patients are charged a nominal fee for consultation, and medicines are provided at cost, plus a small markup. Patients unable to pay are not turned away, but treated and required to clear their balance before returning for treatment. In addition to the normal Ugandan Shilling payment, recent patient payments have included a live chicken and harvested crops – which the staff used for food. Self-sustainability is the goal for KHC; this may take a period of years. During the interim, funds to balance the budget will be provided by Achon Uganda Children’s Fund and, its sister organization, Love Mercy based in Australia.
August 25, 2012 Update
Thanks to our thousand plus supporters, friends at Nike and Runner’s World Magazine and other generous organizations, the Achon Uganda Children’s Fund team and our sister organization Love Mercy Australia, Kristina Health Center (KHC) was formally dedicated on August 25, 2012.
Julius Achon’s dream – bringing healthcare for the first time to thousands in Awake village and beyond was realized. Named after Julius’ mother, Kristina, killed in Awake in 2004 by LRA rebels, KHC will provide essential and life saving healthcare to the community. (note: The health center concept was formally launched in January 2010; construction commenced in April, 2011; the total cost of the project, thus far, is $185,000. Kristina Health Center was 100% built by the hands of villagers and local trades persons.)
Over three thousand people, many walking several miles to the health center campus, attended the dedication. The singing, dancing, speeches and atmosphere were joyous. The local crowd was joined by a team of 27 from America and Australia who had worked diligently the past two years to raise the funds needed to help bring Julius’ dream to reality. Julius spoke to the crowd “to not let the death of his mother Kristina be in vain, but be the seed to become a flower for the community”. Together with the Honorable Achieng Sarah Opendi, Uganda Minister of Primary Health Care, Julius cut the ceremonial ribbon and Kristina Health Center was declared open. Minister Achieng spoke eloquently of the shining example of one barefoot village boy, abducted at the age of 12 as a child soldier, later to become a celebrated Ugandan Olympic runner, then returning to his village to help. She urged the youth in attendance to follow the example set by Julius and, as he preaches daily, “never give up”.
Before the dedication ribbon was even cut, local healthcare workers provided blood testing for adults and inoculations to children of the community in the health center. Vaccines for inoculations were available due to the first ever solar power in Awake powering the only refrigerator/freezer in the local healthcare network. Full health center operations will commence October 1 as the newly hired Ugandan medical staff relocate to the Kristina living quarters and a shipment of medicines and supplies is delivered.
- In May 2010, a 100 x 80 meter parcel of land was acquired in the village of Awake on which to build Kristina Clinic. The clinic site will include two primary buildings – the medical clinic and staff living quarters.
- Julius Achon and Jim Fee shared plans for the Kristina clinic with 750 village residents and the village elder council in November 2010 and received enthusiastic and full support of the community.
- Q1 2011 the AUCF board approved plans for clinic construction; ground breaking of the living quarters took place in April.
- AUCF and sister organization Love Mercy in Australia combined raised $70,000 to fund clinic construction in 2011.
- Ground breaking of the clinic building took place in August with expected construction completion in early 2012.
- Following two trips to Uganda in 2010 to review the proposed Kristina clinic site and tour other clinics, we have purchased a 60 x 80 meter property in the village of Awake. The clinic site will include two primary buildings – the medical clinic, and staff living quarters. Preliminary architect drawings have been completed.
- Julius and Jim shared plans for the Kristina clinic with village residents and village elder council in November and received enthusiastic and full support of the community.
- Bricks are currently being made and stored in anticipation of a groundbreaking.
- Next steps for the clinic include approval of the clinic architect plans, a visit by Jim and Julius in May to finalize medical and county approvals, and groundbreaking.
- AUCF and Love Mercy combined have raised $52K and are $38K from our $90K goal to fund clinic construction in 2011.
Original Project Brief
Otuke County is 42 miles from Lira, the site of the nearest healthcare facility. The vast majority of Otuke residents cannot afford transportation to Lira or the care offered there. As such, every day, people in this region suffer, and in some cases, die needlessly because they do not have access to routine, preventative health care or emergency medical attention.
The primary objective of AUCF is to establish a local clinic staffed by medical professionals able to provide affordable, basic care and to treat and triage the sick and injured. This facility will be called the Kristina Acuma Achon Health Center to honor Julius Achon’s mother, who was shot by the Lord’s Resistance Army in 2004, and perished due to lack of available medical attention.
The health center will be modeled after the Engeye Clinic built near Masaka, Uganda in 2007. We plan to complete the clinic in 2011 at an estimated budget of $90,000. Our clinic will provide primary medical care including triage and appropriate treatment, disease testing, inoculation, medication dispensing and education. Our staff will be comprised of Ugandan MDs and RNs as well as a general manager and staff augmented by periodic visits from US-based doctors and nurses. We plan to establish extensive partnerships to create a set of best practices for developing access to appropriate medical care in rural Africa with the likes of Ugandan Ministry of Health, Engeye Clinic, Uganda Cares (HIV/AIDs testing), Lifewater International, Medical Teams International and other local and international aid organizations.
To establish a system of health education outreach focusing on issues of sanitation, hygiene, and food preparation and storage.
Uganda Ministry of Health, Health Sector Strategy Plan II, 2005/2006-2009/2010
“Over 75% of Uganda’s disease burden is considered to be preventable as it is primarily caused by poor personal and domestic hygiene and inadequate sanitation practices (failure to break the faecal-oral disease transmission routes). This vicious cycle that affects most Ugandans can be reversed, as has already been proven in several other countries, through a well-integrated and coordinated deployment of existing resources. In particular, through the active engagement of the district extension staff, including Health Assistants, Village Health Teams, Community Development Workers and Education Officers, in focusing their co-ordinated activities down at household, community and parish levels. The objective is to increase community awareness and health literacy on disease prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyles in order to have a healthy and productive population.”
According to the Lira Ministry of Health Office Director, John Nelson Opio, “Otuke County realizes severe sanitation problems with 17% of the population practicing basic sanitation versus 62% in Lira. There is a need to focus on prevention and education as well as provide treatment. Health is made at home.”
To establish a plan for providing early childhood education to the youngest residents of Awake village and surrounding community.
Sister organization Love Mercy Foundation, based in Australia, has taken lead responsibility to plan for and build a pre-school and hire teachers in Awake over the next three years.