A few days ago I was in the country, moonlighting with a lady who was in Uganda to do a short film on malaria. I comforted myself that it was not so bad since she was supposed to be doing something good for my people – the video is to be used by Makerere University College of Health Science for something or other.
Going aface, we went to many places. Naturally, she wanted to see ‘the real Uganda.’ I obliged. I tried not to think of the exploitation that this whole thing smirked of. I reminded myself time and again that this was for a good cause, even when a number of the locals we met deep in Busoga couldn’t be bothered. “We are tired of those Bazungu who come here, take our pictures and disappear, leaving us in the same state,” they said.
I met an old woman who had gone to a health center and who was being turned away by the medical workers. She had a resurgent high blood pressure issue and she was due to see the doctor in Jinja town. The medics at the Center II did not have the skills or the resources, anyway, to help her.
They kept on telling her that her condition was dire and that she had to find a way to get to Jinja town. This was just a few kilometers from the town – along Kamuli Road. She gave up at last. She didn’t have the Shs2000 to take her and bring her back. She limped away.
I ran over and gave her the money I had in my pocket. But even as I did this, I knew this was futile and maybe a form of disrespect; would I give everyone a few thousand shillings in the village? How far can charity go?
The Center IIs in the countryside still use Chloroquine and Fansidar to treat malaria. That’s all they’ve got. They have heard that these drugs are not to be used but whoever tells them these things does not provide a solution.
Even right in the middle of Kampala (Bwaise Kimombasa), people still resort to Aloe Vera and other plants to treat themselves. The doctors up in the concrete jungle say traditional healers are all just a bunch of crooks. Problem is after these jeremiads, there’s the sound of silence where solutions would have been.