In 2018/19 eleven suitcases we taken to partnering clinics in the East, Central and Western regions of Uganda as part of Deliver A Leg. These components meant that technologists like Henry Gazimba, Akram Semwanga and Tom Baguma could get an additional 246 amputees back on their feet.
Uganda has seen decent economic progress in recent years but according to The World Bank Groups last Uganda Poverty Assessment Report (September 2016) one third of Ugandans still live below the extreme poverty line. Access to healthcare can be difficult for many and resources in government mobility centres are limited as funds are redirected to manage endemic illnesses like malaria.
The estimate given by Mulago’s senior prosthetist James Kisambira is that for the amount it costs to serve one amputee twenty patients can be treated for malaria. Amputees eventually fade in to the background and make their peace with the hardship that comes with limb loss in a place that finds it difficult to cater to their needs.
That being said the small network of dedicated, friendly and skilled prosthetic technologists Legs4Africa are currently working with go above and beyond their duties, working with endless integrity despite the many systematic difficulties. They make much of the assistive technologies from scratch (wheelchairs, crutches, corrective braces, wooden feet…) but they are also acting occupational therapists, support workers and confidantes to patients.
Theoretically government clinics are subsidised making them cheaper than private clinics. Typically a prosthesis for an above knee amputee costs 1.5m Ugandan shillings (equivalent to roughly £320) through a private clinic that is guaranteed to have stock. Approximately 1.4m Ugandans live on less than £1.50 a day.
Mulago Regional Referral Hospital is home to the country’s only prosthetic and orthotic training school where tomorrow’s technologists learn the skills of the trade. Some of the seventy-four students currently enrolled will go on to work for private clinics, others may work for clinics supported by international sponsors or NGOs and some will continue the work in the regional referral hospitals around the country.