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Ongutoi Health Centre

LOCATION:
Ongutoi Health Center III is located at Holy Cross Parish Ongutoi, in Ongutoi Village, Abarilela Sub-county, Amuria District. It sits about 30km on Soroti-Moroto Rd, and about 2km off the junction at Amolo Trading Center.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
In July 2007, the then Minister for Disaster Emergency preparedness, Relief and Refugees, Hon. Musa Ecweru, invited Canadian and Uganda NGO leaders Don and Marty McLaughlin of High Adventure Ministries Uganda (HAMU) to visit Ongutoi where returnees were struggling with health care needs, specifically, challenges of maternity services. Thesre are communities that were formerly displaced by armed cattle rustling by the neighbouring Karimojong warriors for over three decades, by the Uganda Peeople’s Army (UPA) armed insurrection in Teso (1986-19920, and by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) incursion into Teso in 2003.

High Adventure Ministries Uganda (HAMU) and Hon. Ecweru were met by a village delegation led by Mzee Boniface Ileut, who expressed the concern that government leaders had not provided health care as they promised. Two buildings were provided by NUSAF but nothing else had been done, leaving villagers in medical need. The village leadership then turned to HAMU/HAGCM leaders and requested for help, showing them the block of land adjacent to Ongutoi Primary School as the proper location to establish a health center. Don replied: “Whatever God puts in our hands for you, we will bring. It is for you to pray and if He answers your prayer, we will be back.”

Within two weeks of returning to Canada, money began to arrive from unexpected sources, so HAMU/HAGCM recognized the Lord’s provision and began to send support:
      1.  In September 2007 HAMU provided support for Nurse Dorothy and medicines for malaria to offset the challenge of the then prevalent flood and subsequent malaria outbreak.
     2.  2008-2009 HAMU continued to support the nurse and sent free medicines, but also added emergency food support to offset drought conditions.
     3.  2010 HAMU began construction of medical buildings to initiate direct support for maternity care and support for additional staff and medicines.

Approx. 2011-12, Don met Fr. Martin Aeko in Kampala, where he was told the Catholic Church was the true land owner by virtue of long-standing mutual agreement whereby Ongutoi village had many years earlier, gifted the Ongutoi Land to the Catholic Church for development. As the land owner, the Catholic Church welcomed the development of the Health Center, so long as it benefited the village community. Fr. Martin stated that HAMU was welcomed to continue development. Since there was no land title in effect, but the village and the Church were in agreement for needed health support.

Between 2010-2018 HAMU, with support of western partners, continued to develop Ongutoi Health Center facilities, including providing for maternity health care, HIV/AIDS support, malaria and common diseases treatment, minor surgery services, emergency care, staff housing and so much more. All facilities, medicines and operational costs were provided from donations from Western funding partners who supported HAMU’s efforts. Health care was free for Ongutoi Community for the initial 15 years!

In 2018, HAMU considered a transition plan whereby support for Ongutoi Health Center could be transferred from Western donations to local sourcing. After a cost assessment for operational needs was done, it was determined an investment in income generating projects in the form of two orange orchards in Ongtoi and Akumangor could sustain the entire Health Center if managed properly. It required time and money to develop.

In 2022, given the effets of COVID-19, HAMU lost a lot of supporters and therefore lots of funding. Besides, they met so much local attitudinal and managerial challenges in running the facility, that they thought it would be best for the facility to be managed by the local people themselves. They, therefore, wrote to the Bishop of Soroti Catholic Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Eciru Oliach, with the proposal of handing over Ongutoi Health Facility and all its associated projects to the Diocese. After a couple of preparatory meetings, the handover took place on 10th May 2022.

RECORDS AND STATISTICS:
The Orchard:
1. HAMU invested in developing an orange orchard at Ongutoi land (planted 3,500 trees) and acquired a second 15-acre property in Akumangor, where an additional 1500 trees were planted. HAMU also invested in a solar powered borehole at Akumangor. Anticipated income in the initial stages from mature trees with both sites combined is 165 Million shillings per year, thereby offsetting the health service delivery costs.
2. Facing extreme heat and prolonged dry season, HAMU further invested (with strong support of Rotary International) in rain water collection, storage and solar powered distribution, utilizing water-conserving drip irrigation process patterned after Isreal. The water collection is further supplemented in Ongutoi by a borehole. The supporting technology for the water storage and irigation system requires consistent expert maintenance.
3. The process is anticipated to mature within 5 years, when fully developed trees could provide sufficient income to sustain the center without donations, thereby assuring Ongutoi of free or highly subsidised health care support for 25 years – the life span of orange trees.

Ongutoi Health Center III Farm Harvest 2023.

With reduced support from donor funding, Ongutoi Health Facility has continued expand the orchard, maintaining the original plan by HAMU, so that at full maturity, the oranges be able to generate sufficient income to completely subsidize the cost of health care services for the patients who access the Facility.

Staffing:

Qualification

Number

Medical clinical officer

01

Registered comprehensive nurse

01

Enrolled nurse

01

Enrolled midwife

01

Nursing assistant

01

Laboratory assistant

01

Health information assistant

01

Accounts assistant

01

Electrician

01

Farm manager

01

Assistant farm manager

01

Cleaners

03

Security personnel

02

TOTAL

16

The facility is also assisted by three (03) TASO paid staff, including: a linkage facilitator, a cough monitor, and a mentor mother. This team purposely takes care of HIV/TB positive living persons, with the support from TASO. This makes a total number of 19 staff working in the facility

Cathment Area and Population:

The Health Centre is currently serving an approximate catchment population of 10,215. The catchment area is constituted by the four villages of Asilang, Ongutoi, Akeriau, and Okokorio, all within Abarilela Sub-county, Amuria District. There are 24 Village Health Team members (VHTs) attached to the Health Center from respective villages.

Services offered at the Health Center:

S/No Service Average client No per month
SSS01 Laboratory testing 336 clients.
01 Antenatal care. 156 clients.
03 Maternal deliveries 20 clients
04 HIV/TB testing, linkage treatment and care. -154 HIV positive active clients
-04 TB active clients.
05 Abdominal ultra sound scanning. 062 clients
06 General care and treatment of minor and a few major illnesses.(OPD,IPD) 460 clients per month.
07 EID care 17 active clients.

The Health Unit Management Committee:

Ongutoi Health Facility has a Health Unit Management Committee (HUMC) that comprises nine (9) members who represent different stakeholder and insterest groups in the catchment area. The HUMC links the Health Center with the community, monitors the health facility status (premises, sundries and personnel) and the quality of service delivery, provides feedback on patient satisfaction and needs to the Facility, and supports the evaluation and planning processes of the Facility.

PLANS:

i.  Complete fencing of the whole facility, to enhance security of the entire facility.

ii. Connect the Facility to the national grid electricity.

iii. Operationalize the theatre.

iv. Expand the store.

v.  Set up other income generating projects i.e., canteen, poultry, rabbit keeping and apiary.

vi.  Acquire a new motorcycle for community outreach.

vii. Lobby for more funds i.e., PHC, RBF, to help in running other health-service activities.

viii. Acquire an ambulance to ease referral system for patients.

ix. Learning study-tours to other facilities so as to improve on performance.

x.  Organize refresher courses and trainings for staff.

xi.  Addition of more staff especially to the lab and clinic section.

xii. Put up a better and modern gate at the entrance.

xiii. Procure a truck for delivery of the Facility’s oranges to better markets.

xiv.  Continue to sensitize the community on the health services provided at the Facility.