October 4, 2015
by Dr. Gregory Bartha
A team from the Cross Emergency Medical Clinic has recently returned from another medical outreach to the Karamoja region. Again, this is a remote area. The road is not paved and very rough and the trip is quite tiring. We visited three sites. One of our vehicles got stuck in a water crossing en route to the first location. A number of Karamojong people came to help the team members push our van out of the mud. They are extremely strong people and I do not think we could have moved the vehicle without their help. We set up under a tree and people gradually started coming for treatment. By afternoon, there was a large crowd. A government team also came to our site and gave a presentation on land issues and the need to mark boundaries. The most commonly encountered problems were skin infections, eye irritation and diarrhea in children, pneumonia, wounds and musculoskeletal conditions.
The hygiene is very poor and no doubt contributes to the large number of skin infections, rashes and severe fungal infections. We saw two individuals with deforming infestations of the hands and feet. I suspect these were caused by advanced fungal infections, but opportunistic infections could also be responsible. Arrangements were made to send these people for evaluations at a referral hospital. Many older people came in with arthritis conditions including severe knee arthritis, limb deformities from old injuries and chronic back pain. The symptom complex of headache, backache and chest pain was common, even in young people, probably the result of nutritional deficiencies and hard physical labor. A number of children appear to be malnourished, having hair loss and distended abdomens. One child had a large tumor in the eye.