Kamuli Mission Hospital is situated on the outskirts of the town of Kamuli in Eastern Uganda, half way between the capital Kampala and Mbale. The hospital was founded in 1914 by Mother Kevin, an Irish nun from the Nursing Order of The Little Sisters of St Francis. In those days, the hospital consisted of grass huts but they cared for all patients regardless of race or religion. The present buildings date from the 1960’s. Up until that time there was no doctor at the hospital, the first one started in 1962. The hospital is funded by a grant from the Ugandan government, but the grant is variable and intermittent. Patients have to make a contribution to the cost of their treatment, but although the hospital keeps this to a minimum, most families in the area are desperately poor, many people are not able to afford to pay and so they are not able to access any form of healthcare.
Kamuli Mission Hospital has a training school for nurses and midwives. Retention of trained staff, both medical and nursing, is a constant problem. The hospital cannot afford to pay competitive wages and the isolated rural situation is not attractive to young people.
Over the last five years, a new operating theatre, pharmacy, laboratory, X-ray and ultrasound rooms and nursing school have been built mainly as a result of support by Rotarians and Rotary Clubs in Britain and Ireland, supported by a donation form the Uganda Childbirth Injuries Fund.
The hospital serves a large, rural area with a population of over 750,000, most of whom are subsistence farmers. It has 160 beds with wards for surgery, medicine, maternity and paediatrics. The outpatient department operates a 24 hour casualty service and there are departments for antenatal care and the treatment of TB and HIV. The hospital sees 50,000 outpatients and admits 10,000 inpatients each year.
In most cases, the people in the area still live in mud huts, with no electricity, running water or sanitation. They cook on open fires and as there are always toddlers and small children around, burns injuries are very common. Life expectancy in this part of Africa is about 50 years and there is a high infant mortality rate. AIDS started in Uganda in the 1980’s and is still a problem there. There are many AIDS orphans being looked after by extended family members and orphanages.