by Dr. Gregory Bartha
March 15, 2021
Uganda is going through a rough time. The rains have failed; coronavirus has attacked the country severely; and a complete lockdown has been imposed by the government. People are isolated in their homes, don’t have enough to eat, and just try to survive until the end of July when the lockdown will hopefully end. The lockdown has been successful in slowing the spread of disease, but people are facing the prospect of worsening poverty and food shortage for an indefinite period.
The northeastern part of the country has been most severely affected. That is the home of the Karamajong, a tribe of pastoral people living on arid land in a very primitive state. They rely on cattle, sheep, and goats for food and income. There are few health facilities, schools, or churches in the area, and water sources are scattered. The team of people I work with have organized a food relief effort. They recently delivered three truckloads of cassava to four villages and plan to serve seven more in the next two weeks. Cassava is a plant with a starchy root which can be made into a type of bread. It is easy to cultivate and is used widely throughout Africa.
While there the team encountered two additional needs – children with cancer and persons needing wheelchairs. Four children were identified who need referral and treatment for malignancies.
1. A 9 year old boy with a malignant tumor on the face
2. A 6 year old girl with osteosarcoma on the arm
3. A 9 year old with a tumor on the leg
4. A 12 year old boy with osteosarcoma on the leg
We are mobilizing funds for the children to be sent to the Mulago Cancer Center in Kampala. There is hope that the quality of life in these children will be improved and that some will be cured. In the US 80% of childhood cancers can be cured, but results are not as good in Uganda. Also the team is arranging for a transfer of 20 wheelchairs to the area to help people with spinal disease, hip fractures, and those who had leg deformities or amputations. Also funds have been raised to drill water wells in the region.