The ACCESS team visited St. Mary’s Health Center Kasaala in Luweero to network with a facility that has similar goals for the community. The two projects have already collaborated through a surgical camp in 2021, where hard-to-reach community members of Nakaseke and Luweero District with eye defects received free treatment. Now, both teams came together to discuss and agree on possible long-term collaboration in this area.
The ACCESS project team and St. Mary’s Health Center staff discussed the opportunities and challenges of working around infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases care in the Luweero triangle, which consists of Nakaseke, Luweero, and Nakasongola districts. During the site visit, both sides were able to gain valuable insights into the treatment of HIV/AIDs patients and NCD patients from experts in both fields. There is a great opportunity to collaborate further in the future. Collaboration could include training courses and capacity building of health workers from each facility on NCD and ID treatment and care in the rural communities of the Luweero triangle.
Currently, the biggest challenges both projects face are limited medications and supplies. The projects’ clinics have a wide catchment area of patients and are one of the rare providers of NCD care in the region. External funding also enables both projects to offer treatments and medications free of charge. The projects’ clinics treat patients who travel long distances to access the only available and affordable care. Possible improvements include the implementation of a mobile clinic and ambulance system that bring care to vulnerable community members in rural areas.
As part of the collaboration, patients of Nakaseke district will be included in surgical camps that will be held at Luweero General Hospital to provide people access to ophthalmic procedures. This could be beneficial to the Balamu NCD cohort, as these patients are at high risk for common eye defects such as cataracts, which can be easily treated.