In early July 2016, in the midst of South Sudan’s efforts to rebuild after decades of civil war and the last conflict of mid-December 2013, fighting broke out again in the capital city of Juba. Due to the increasing violence, scarcity of food, and financial instability (inflation reached 900%) caused by the renewed fighting, many South Sudanese have been fleeing their country. Between July 7, 2016 and August 29, 2017, 729,123 of these refugees arrived in Uganda. Existing transit centers, reception centers, and refugee camps were overwhelmed with numbers exceeding their capacity, and Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the UNHCR decided on locations for additional refugee camps.
After planning sessions and site surveys with partner organizations, including RMF, the OPM and UNHCR decided to build Bidibidi Refugee Settlement near the South Sudanese border in the Yumbe District of West Nile, Uganda. The settlement was opened in early August 2016. RMF was named UNHCR Health Implementing Partner for the new settlement, and we were the first partner organization to arrive in Bidibidi.
Despite a general lack of infrastructure, limited resources, and the overwhelming numbers of refugees—which increased daily with new arrivals—RMF has kept on pace and saved the lives of many exhausted men, women, and children entering Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. We have more than doubled our Uganda staff to meet the needs of refugees in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement and continue to provide quality healthcare services to refugees and the host population, totaling more than 400,000 people.
RMF’s goal is to provide comprehensive primary healthcare services to the population of Bidibidi Refugee Settlement by establishing and maintaining easily accessible, fully stocked, fully staffed health clinics and creating a robust health outreach program. RMF also strives to promote the peaceful coexistence of refugee and host populations by supporting referral points in the host community, such as Yumbe District Hospital, and making our services available to all who attend our clinics or health outreaches.
RMF provides the following services in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement:
- Medical and nutrition screening of new arrivals
- Primary healthcare services
- Maternal and child health services
- Reproductive health services
- Nutrition services
- Medical outreaches
- HIV and TB services
- Referral/ambulance services
- Expanded program on immunization
- Educating refugees on healthy living to prevent malnutrition and illnesses such as malaria
RMF’s operations have continued to expand, and as of November 2017, we are providing health care in Zone 1, Zone 3, Zone 4, and Zone 5 of Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, operating more than 30 health centers, including hospital-level centers. Throughout the entire settlement (five zones), RMF manages all referral cases and specialized medical investigations, consolidates all medical data, manages facilitation for caregivers and patients while at district and regional referral hospitals, and provides dignified burial services to those who pass on.
In addition to our stationary health clinics, RMF’s team is conducting health outreaches within Bidibidi Refugee Settlement to ensure that refugees living far from the health centers still receive health education and care. To this end, RMF also trains Village Health Teams (VHTs) for a strong disease surveillance system.
Goboro Border Point
RMF also sustains a medical team at Goboro border point, conducting medical screening and providing basic treatment and ambulance services to all South Sudanese refugees entering Uganda through Goboro border point.
- Limited supplies of water and electricity
- Very little infrastructure in the camp
Initially, RMF deployed an emergency team of 22 medical and support staff to Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. We now have over 500 medical and support staff members working in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement alone. As support and resources increase, RMF will continue to provide medical services and supplies, hire staff, build permanent health clinics, further support referral centers, and help residents of Bidibidi Refugee Settlement live healthy, thriving lives.
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