Uganda

1.4 million

refugees and asylum seekers, including 853,363 children (59%)

799,796

people affected by the destruction of crops, homes and infrastructure and the disruption of livelihoods

102,671

people displaced by flooding

Humanitarian assistance focusing on LGBT people and refugees in Uganda

Médecins du Monde has targeted its humanitarian mission in Uganda at a community experiencing particular discrimination.

 

Tackling homophobia in Uganda: oppression of LGBTinfo-icon people

In Uganda, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTinfo-icon) people experience oppression, assaults and imprisonment. In this country where religion is very strong, Médecins du Monde provides healthcare interventions to improve the everyday lives of these communities.

Life imprisonment for homosexuals and  death penalty for carriers of HIV

Since 2009, the country has made several attempts to toughen its legislation against homosexuality and to introduce the concept of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ where being HIV positive is considered as an aggravating circumstance. A draft law even contained provisions for life imprisonment for homosexuals and the death penalty for carriers of HIV. This is the context in which Médecins du Monde decided to act to fight against health discriminations based on homophobia and to prevent sexual risks. We believe it is intolerable to criminalise someone because they have a particular disease.

 

Sexual risk prevention is essential for LGBTinfo-icon people

Owing to real or perceived homophobia on the part of healthcare workers, LGBTinfo-icon people are often afraid to use health services, especially for sexual and reproductive healthcare. The impact on their health is significant, particularly for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. As a result, the prevalence of HIV is close to 14% among homosexuals in the capital city, Kampala. The humanitarian emergency in Uganda thus also concerns STIs.

 

Hosting refugees: medical assistance to meet health needs in Uganda

Since 2013, Uganda has been a place of refuge for thousands of South Sudanese, Congolese and Burundian people fleeing from the violence (including torture, rape and murder) that is widespread in their home countries. In this context the Ugandan government opened six new camps, among them the Bidibidi camp in the north-west of the country. Today it is believed to be the largest camp in Uganda, with over 230,000 refugees from South Sudan recorded at the end of 2018.

Healthcare needs are enormous

Uganda has a pioneering refugee policy which allows refugees to move freely, cultivate land provided for them, engage in commercial activities and access social services free of charge. However, the poverty resulting from scarce vital resources (especially during periods of drought), as well as the trauma of war and the violence experienced by refugees in their countries of origin and in the camps means that the healthcare needs are enormous. Therefore a medical assistance plan is needed in Uganda.

En 2009, un projet de loi prévoyait la peine de mort pour les homosexuels séropositifs. ©Neamoscou
En 2009, un projet de loi prévoyait la peine de mort pour les homosexuels séropositifs. ©Neamoscou

Médecins du monde humanitarian mission in Uganda

Combining social and medical assistance, the humanitarian mission in Uganda focuses on several crucial issues.

 

Caring for victims of homophobia in Africa

In Kampala, Médecins du Monde decided to join forces with the Most At-Risk Populations Initiative (MARPI), an organisation which works at the hospital in Mulago providing sexual and reproductive health services to key groups (including gay and transgender people and sex workers). These services are tailored to their needs and the restrictions they face, and cover awareness-raising about STIs, contraception and gender-based violence.

An LGBTinfo-icon-friendly clinic right in the heart of the capital

This Ugandan organisation, set up to support sexual minorities in the country, has succeeded in forging an alliance with the Ministry of Health. It now runs an LGBTinfo-icon-friendly clinic right in the heart of the capital. Although many gay and lesbian people are afraid of going to the doctor for fear of being stigmatised or reported, the clinic ensures that they receive a minimum level of care. It represents ‘a small oasis’, known through word of mouth and by small LGBTinfo-icon organisations also spreading the word.

 

Forging links with local organisations is vital for the success of our humanitarian mission in Uganda

Through the provision of training Médecins du Monde is also supporting MARPI as it expands its activities to regional referral hospitals, including the one in Mbarara in the south-west of the country.

In addition to improving the services provided by the clinic (especially in the treatment of anal warts, a common STI among gay people in Uganda), the NGO is also training LGBTinfo-icon organisations in project design and fundraising.

The partnership between MdM and local facilities is one of the milestones of this humanitarian mission in Uganda.

 

Help for refugees from South Sudan (project transferred on 31 December 2020)

In July 2018, Médecins du Monde took on the provision of outpatient consultations for Bolomoni Health Centre Level III, which was set up as an emergency response by Médecins Sans Frontières. The health centre provides local people and refugees from South Sudan with primary healthcare and sexual and reproductive health interventions, including integrated care for survivors of gender-based violence, mental healthcare and psychosocial support.

Since 1 January 2019, Médecins du Monde has also taken over the health centre’s 60-bed inpatient unit. The unit provides paediatric services, a maternity ward and services for adults. It also refers more serious cases to the public hospitals.

IN 2020

the world changed and we provided help through our humanitarian mission in Uganda with:

  • 34,788 curative outpatient consultations
  • 1,071 hospitalisations
  • 2,581 antenatal consultations
  • 1,054 postnatal consultations
  • 361 births attended by qualified healthcare staff
  • 333 new users of family planning methods
  • 388 consultations on gender-based violence (including 193 cases of rape)
  • 2,234 mental health consultations

In 2020, Médecins du Monde initiated an exit strategy which included transferring the health centre to a humanitarian partner, with the expectation that the local authorities would then be in a position to take it on. The International Rescue Committee offered to manage the Bolomoni health centre from January 2021, in order to continue Médecins du Monde’s work in cooperation with the health authorities for the next two and a half years.

This partnership facilitated the implementation of the medical assistance plan for the Sudanese communities.

 

 

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