Amuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Residents of Apaa Township in Amuru district are struggling to access health services. It follows the closure of Apaa Health Centre II two years following a heated disputed between Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and residents over ownership of the land hosting the health center.
Prior to its closure, Apaa Health Centre II was serving over 26,000 people from Gaji, Acholi Ber, Coro, Luru, Punu Dyang, Juka, Alony, Kal Acut, Aker and Oyanga villages among others. Apparently, residents trek more than 20 kilometers to access health services at Lacor Health Centre III in Pabbo Town Council in Amuru district, Gulu Main Hospital and St Mary`s Hospital Lacor in Gulu Town.
Concy Atoo, a resident of Punu Dyang, says Apaa Health Centre was the nearest and was accessible to anybody. She however, says its closure for the last two years forced them to resort to private clinic in Apaa trading center or trek more than twenty kilometers to Pabbo Town Council in extreme cases.
The mother of seven says she spends over Shillings 50,000 on transport to and from Lacor Health Centre III in Pabbo Town Council and Shillings 100,000 to Gulu town. Betty Adok from Oyanga village says that she has resorted to using local herbs to treat herself and her nine children because she can’t afford transport to Pabbo trading center and Gulu town.
Adok recalls when she was forced to use local herbs last year when her 11-year-old son was bitten by a snake since she couldn’t afford transport and treatment from Pabbo or Gulu. Doreen Akumu from Punu Dyang says she has battled joint pains for several months without treatment due to lack of a functional health facility in her area.
She also disclosed that she is administering pain killers to her children with fever without prescription from a certified medic. Akumu appeals to government to consider reopening Apaa Health Centre II to address the situation.
Pauline Ayoo, another resident, said the closure of Apaa Health Centre II has mostly affected expectant mother since they are missing maternal health services due to lack of transport to move to distant health facilities.
Sylvester Odoki, a local leader in the area says hundreds of residents especially children are battling malarial, diarrhea, dysentery and measles infection but have nowhere to turn for treatment especially those who cannot afford paying in private clinics.
Dr. Patrick Odong Olwedo the Amuru District Health Officer says Apaa Health Centre II will be relocated from the contested area, saying the raging conflict has affected its operation.