Mukono is about 30 miles west of the centre of Kampala and is more or less a suburb. The Church of Uganda hospital is a busy hospital providing care to the town. During the pandemic times were hard, with everyone having less money and avoiding coming to hospital if they could, which reduced the hospitals income.
The hospital understood the need for developing mental health care from our first meeting and they were already providing some services. With support and encouragement from Jamie’s Fund they have done a lot to develop their mental health care work.
There is a weekly mental health clinic in the hospital and they are getting referrals to the clinics from outside of the hospital.
Early on they were concerned that many people in the area had not heard much about mental ill-health and so the staff went out to churches on a Sunday. With the approval of the minister, they spoke with the congregations about mental illness and what could be done about it.
The staff at Mukono were concerned that it might be hard for patients to get to the hospital for clinics so they asked if it would be possible to run four community clinics. The hospital would provide the vehicle and medicines if we could support the other costs such as fuel and staff costs. We were pleased to be able to support them.
When Maureen and I visited in February we joined Lamet, Sharon and Emmanuel on a visit to one of the community clinics at Nakawa about 15 miles from the hospital. It was held in a health centre beside a church. We were pleased to see there was a banner saying there was mental health clinic running. This in itself is progress – being open and talking about mental illness.
That morning the staff saw nineteen patients. Most of them were already known to the service and were mainly coming to get their medicine. But the hospital was 15 miles away and also the drugs at this clinic are given with no charge. So they saved the cost of travel and medicines.
Francis, the clinical officer who runs the health centre, and I went over to the church services and at a suitable point we told them why we were running the clinic and please would they encourage others to come, if they thought they might be helped.
Lamet and I had a discussion with Francis about how there is a considerable area east of the health centre where there is no health facility. There are likely to be people in that area who are being confined or shackled as the families don’t know how else to cope with their behaviour.
Jamie’s Fund is going to support Lamet and colleagues to run a Community Leaders Sensitisation workshop. This is a one-day event where the staff work with the local leaders – formal and informal, such as teachers, religious leaders, police men, local politicians etc. JF have funded 24 of these, and trained over 800 people. The results are encouraging with many stories of particularly the policemen and religious leaders being surprised and pleased to find that the hospital may be able to help with disturbed people they don’t know how to help.
There is still a lot to do but we are very encouraged by all that the staff at Mukono hospital are doing for mental health care and the way that the senior management team are so supportive, despite all the competing demands.