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BIG happenings in Mpunde: an update on the Mpunde Health Center

One of Empower Through Health’s most important projects to date is the Mpunde Health Center. Read a brief history of the rapid progress we’ve made with the center in its few months of operation, and the BIG steps that we’ve taken in 2019 to expand the Mpunde Health Center and provide better care.

Fall 2018: Opening the Mpunde Health Center

In November 2018 Empower Through Health opened the Mpunde Health Center to serve communities in Eastern Uganda. Before the health center opened, there was no convenient access to modern medicine in our catchment area.

ETH Field Director Scott serenading guests at the Mpunde Health Center opening ceremony

We started the Mpunde Health Center with one incredible nurse, Zubeidah, providing care. She has been and continues to be excellent, but we wanted to better serve our catchment area by continuing to improve healthcare services, and that means expanding our staffing and resources.

2018 Holiday Season: realizing the vision together

To realize this vision, we needed seed money as we work on setting up a community health insurance plan to make the Mpunde Health Center financially sustainable. So for the months of December and January, we ran a fundraising campaign to support the Mpunde Health Center.

We set out to raise $10,000, but thanks to the generosity of our supporters and the hard work of our fundraisers, we smashed past that goal and raised over $14,000!

2019: more care for more people

ETH hit the ground running with the Mpunde Health Center this year. With the money raised during the fundraiser, we’ve been able to bring on more staff, expand the facilities, and conduct more thorough research into the catchment region.

Since the start of the new year, two new staff members have joined the Mpunde Health Center to help Zubeidah out. We’ve brought on Eunice Sabano as Clinical Officer and Aminah Namwebya as a midwife. They’re already making a big impact, and that impact will only grow.

Eunice says about her plans for Mpunde, “I hope that we can plan outreach programs and sensitize the community on different common conditions. For instance, many people don’t know that there are tests to determine and confirm if one has an STI which eases diagnosis and treatment plans. Many are not aware that the STIs are curable and continue to depend on herbal medicines which I personally believe are not as effective as advertised."

The Mpunde Health Center Team: Eunice, Amina, and Zubeidah (L to R)

Zubeidah is thrilled about her new team members: “I am so grateful for the new hands at MHC. I am grateful to those who sacrifice to make it possible. And we pledge to do our very best and see to it that Mpunde Health Center provides the best healthcare in the region.” We’ve been able to expand the operational scope of the health center with our new funding too. We’ve purchased a vaccine refrigerator that we’ll be able to use to store vaccines that the Ugandan government is providing us to vaccinate the catchment region. We also recently acquired all of the supplies and equipment necessary to start delivering babies in Mpunde! We now have three inpatient beds, a delivery bed, and are in the process of configuring an electronic medical record keeping system.

Installing the new solar fridge that we'll be refrigerating vaccines in

While the Mpunde Health Center team has been busy providing care, the rest of the ETH team in Uganda has been conducting a more detailed analysis of the catchment area population. To our surprise, we’ve discovered that the catchment area is a lot bigger than we had thought. Based on initial discussions with district politicians, we expected about 20,000 people to be in our catchment area. However, health data in this district is very lacking, and after collecting our own survey data we estimate that the population we are serving is at least 70,000. We are continuing to refine this number as we collect data from our patients to find out where exactly each person is visiting from and how far people are willing to travel.

We take very seriously our responsibility towards our vast patient population to bring world-class medical care to this rural setting.

Our Roadmap for 2019

As 2019 continues, we are continuing to research how to best implement a community insurance plan using mobile money payments in the region. For just a few dollars a month, people will be able to receive primary care, maternity services, and immunizations.

It’s still early in 2019, and we’ve only begun what we hope to accomplish this year at the Mpunde Health center. The most important work is yet to come.

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