Uganda was notorious for its human rights abuses in the days of Idi Amin and Milton Obote’s rule in the 1970s and 1980s.
MSF in Uganda 2015
But today, the landlocked East African country of roughly 37 million people has managed to emerge from a disastrous civil war and economic catastrophe to become relatively peaceful, prosperous and stable.
The country has won praise for its vigorous campaign against HIV/AIDS. This has helped to reduce the prevalence of the virus – which reached 30 percent of the population in the 1990s – to single-digit figures.
Tok Maker Tot, 20, fled Juba – the capital of South Sudan – with his mother and 10 siblings after witnessing the shooting of some students at his university. His father stayed behind in the city.
“Two students from our class were shot,” says Tot, now in Kenya.
“All the students have now fled. Those who have money have gone to Nairobi, others went to Kampala, others went to Ethiopia. But we, who do not have anything, are trying to go to Kakuma [a refugee camp in northwest Kenya].”
On 29 September 2014, a Ugandan man, aged around 30 and presenting symptoms of haemorrhagic fever, died in a hospital in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
On 4 October, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the man's blood tests had revealed contamination by Marburg fever.
“As with Ebola, there’s no vaccine and no treatment other than supportive care like rehydration, stabilising blood pressure, reducing the fever, administering pain-killers and antiemetics,” explains Dr Estrella Lasry, MSF’s adviser on tropical diseases.
“The last Marburg epidemic in Uganda was in 2012. It lasted just over two months. There were 20 cases and 45 percent of them were fatal. That same year there were also two Ebola epidemics in the country”.
MSF’s work in Uganda: 2015
At the end of 2015, MSF opened a new project in Kasese district, southwest Uganda.
This project focused on access to healthcare for adolescents and the fishing communities on lakes George and Edward.
Both groups are particularly exposed to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Activities are run in complete integration with the public health system.
Since 2013, MSF has supported the HIV laboratory in Arua district, and has introduced devices to measure CD4 and viral load count as part of a UNITAID-funded project.
In 2015, MSF started offering early infant diagnosis, to test babies born to HIV-positive mothers so that they can start antiretroviral (ARV) treatment as quickly as possible if necessary. MSF is also supporting genotyping tests, which identify resistance to second-line ARVs.
Response to a malaria outbreak
MSF conducted an epidemiological assessment in Kole, Apach and Oyam districts, and at the request of the Ministry of Health, donated more than 81,000 treatments for malaria and supported case management in health centres in two districts and a hospital in Kole.
Teams also ran mobile clinics and referred patients to Lira regional hospital, if required. During the five months, 63,000 patients with malaria were treated in the districts supported by us.
In July, we handed over the outpatient, inpatient and maternity care services we had been providing for South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani district since January 2014 to Medical Teams International.
Between January and July, more than 48,600 consultations were carried out, and 574 patients were admitted to hospital.
Find out more in our 2014 International Activity Report
At the end of 2015, MSF had 309 staff in Uganda. MSF has been working in the country since 1986.