Healthcare & Conservation
The Kibale mobile clinic was founded by Colin Chapman who was inspired by the community of people living close to the forest area where he carries out much of his conservation work. The project seeks to create a union between health care and conservation, thereby decreasing wildlife hunting, improving the health of local villagers, and reducing risks of future pandemics—a win-win scenario.
History and early establishment
With the help of grants from several charitable organizations, as well as donations raised by student lead fundraisers, enough money was raised to complete the clinic in 2007. The clinic was then staffed by a full-time nurse, an educator, and a visiting doctor to treat patients. In 2012, Chapman secured a grant from Grand Challenges Canada to buy a second-hand ambulance, and had it shipped to Uganda. The ambulance seeks to serve those who live all around the almost 800km park to be treated and to have the opportunity to receive health and conservation outreach. This addition effectively increased the scale of the project, which is now estimated to reach over 120,000 patients annually. Ever since, the clinic has been running solely on donations—even a small donation can go a long way in Uganda.
“Most of the time, people don’t need multi-million dollar grants; they can do a lot with $20,000 or $30,000 a year, those small contributions can make a big difference.”
— Colin Chapman
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. In the future, the clinic hopes to expand its programs to increase the frequency of visits with patients and to have more family planning events with a doctor present. The clinic itself serves the needs of 24 different communities, so far having distributed over 50,000 condoms, 8,000 malaria-preventing mosquito nets and 1,200 pairs of reading glasses.
Supporting long-term conservation
By having the park provide local community members with valuable services, a strong relationship is established between them, and with this positive relationship it is hoped that the incidence of peaching in the park will decrease. Protecting the parks biodiversity is a community-wide effort, so creating a positive relationship benefits everyone involved.
Future Plans for the Clinic
Currently the health clinic is diligently working to provide the necessary response and care for those who are affected by coronavirus. In addition, the clinic hopes to expand in the future so that they can provide a more comprehensive health and education program to more communities around the park. Specifically, Chapman and his team envisions adding a new team that will train with the current staff and travel around the park to deliver health services, coronavirus testing, and conservation outreach. This new team would include two nurses, an educator, and a driver. With success, the new team once trained would be sent to an adjacent park to scale the impact of these services. This expansion of the clinic services would be accompanied by research conducted by local Ugandan field assistants and hopefully a Ugandan Ph.D. student determining the effectiveness of communicating the value of wildlife and the risk of disease associated with hunting and curbing poaching. The expansion will also be supported by local and national newspapers and other media outlets. If you are interested in donating to support these efforts, please visit the donate page.