The Clinic’s History and Establishment
The Kibale Health and Conservation Clinic was the first project established by Colin Chapman and his colleges to address the local need for health care and conservation education in and around Kibale National Park.
The idea for the clinic began when Dr. Chapman and his friend Charles Tumwesigye (Director of Field Operations for the Ugandan Wildlife Authority) recognized that there was a desperate need for health services in communities surrounding the park.
Specifically, in these areas, hospitals are difficult to access—many people have to ride 15 km or more on their bicycles to seek care. Life expectancy is approximately 45 years, and children often suffer and die from preventable ailments such as malaria and malnourishment.
Building a clinic thus would provide access and resources to help better the lives of local communities around Kibale. Simultaneously, the team believed that providing healthcare services and conservation education would help to establish positive relationships between local residents, the park staff, and the uniquely biodiverse national park.
The goal for the clinic is to illustrate to locals that the national park is trying to care for them, so in return they should respect the park and its wonderful plants and animals.
With the help of grants from several charitable organizations, as well as donations raised by students, enough money was raised to complete the construction of the clinic in 2007. The clinic was then staffed by a full-time nurse, an educator, and a visiting doctor to treat patients.
The clinic currently provides basic health care services such as treatments for common ailments, vaccinations, physical exams, maternal care to expecting mothers, emergency care when possible, provisions of vitamins, HIV/AIDS treatment and counseling, and deworming.
In addition, the clinic provides important outreach programs about family planning, nutrition, sanitation, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, and conservation. When funding is available, events are held where women can get access to free family planning. These events are always oversubscribed, and, sadly, staff have to turn away many women at the end of the day. In the future, the clinic hopes to expand its programs, and have more local people come in for check-ups, particularly expecting mothers. The clinic also hopes to have more family planning events with a doctor present.