Uganda: Healthcare Implementing Partner for UNHCR at Bidibidi Refugee Settlement
Bidibidi Refugee Settlement 4th Report 2016
October 07, 2016
Naku Charles Lwanga
Summary of Activities
The violence that broke out in South Sudan in early July 2016 drastically increased the number of refugees fleeing to Uganda. Between July 1, 2016 and September 21, 2016, 163,540 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Uganda. Every Ugandan border point with South Sudan became an entry point for refugees, with most entering through the Elegu border. Refugees who had been to Uganda before and had some money immediately traveled to established settlements in Kiryandongo, Adjumani, Koboko, Moyo, and Arua districts, but the highest percentage of refugees stayed at the Pagirinya Transit Centre in Adjumani. Since the situation was not going to improve in the short run, creative and better solutions were sought.
An emergency interagency meeting was convened by the UNHCR and OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) in Kampala, at the OPM’s offices. Among the resolutions adopted during the meeting, was one dispatching a Joint Assessment Mission to Uganda’s West Nile region to find a place where this new influx of refugees could be settled. Partner organizations (including RMF) who would be able to support different sectors were encouraged to join the mission. Upon our return from West Nile, the Joint Assessment Mission resolved to settle the new influx of refugees at Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in Yumbe District. Within this context, RMF was selected as the main UNHCR Health Implementing Partner, complemented by IRC for reproductive health, ACF and Concern Worldwide for Nutrition, and of course the UNHCR.
From the Ground Up
Pagirinya Transit Centre was now very congested, and existing refugee settlements were filled with numbers exceeding their capacity. All services were exhausted, and fear of a disease outbreak, such as cholera, was running high. It was necessary to open Bidibidi Refugee Settlement within a very short time, increasing the pace of work, decision making, and accurately identifying priorities, especially priorities that would be lifesaving.
What must be kept in mind is that Bidibidi started as fields and thickets, and every service had to be built from the ground up.
Since refugees had been settled far from the Reception Centre where the health facility was located, it became necessary to establish another health center closer to where people were living. This called for additional personnel, medical and cleaning supplies, furniture, and office supplies. In order to bridge the gap, RMF Uganda had to use its already stretched resources to purchase more hospital supplies and hire additional manpower. Currently, Bidibidi Refugee Settlement is divided into 5 zones, and as of early October, Bidibidi’s 3 zones are occupied by a population of 131,352 refugees. Zone 4 and Zone 5 are to be opened at any time now, because the influx is increasing. Bidibidi Refugee Settlement was originally designed/estimated to accommodate 100,000 refugees, but with new areas opening, its estimated capacity is 180,000.
The number of RMF workers in Bidibidi increased from 22 to 39, and our team per this October now includes 41 members:
1 RMF Medical Coordinator
2 Medical Officers
2 Nursing Officers
7 Enrolled Nurses
5 Clinical Officers
1 Laboratory Technician
2 Laboratory Assistants
2 Data Clerks
Despite the fact that RMF has not yet received any funds from UNHCR, we are performing our duties as the main Health Implementing Partner:
- Curbing an early cholera outbreak in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement
- Establishing additional services including birthing services
- Providing medication, medical supplies, and cleaning supplies to sustain the health project
- Providing medical equipment (hospital beds, mattresses, delivery beds, examination couches, etc.)
- Providing a temporary incinerator
- Excavating a placenta pit
- Providing stationery (to work as medical forms) for patients
- Supporting patients who are referred to the regional referral hospital in Arua through financial facilitation of the patient and the caretaker
- Conducting consistent health outreaches to provide health education and prevention
RMF quickly initiated a collaboration with Yumbe Hospital so that cases requiring surgery or other specialized treatment can be referred to Yumbe Hospital. Through this collaboration, RMF Medical Officers provide professional services to Yumbe Hospital, and Yumbe Hospital provides RMF with unlimited access to their facilities for the benefit of refugees.
RMF (with permission from UNHCR) relocated one ambulance from Kiryandongo to support Bidibidi. This has been critical in saving the lives of people of concern. Since one ambulance was not sufficient, UNHCR relocated another ambulance from Arua operations (under MTI) to the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement.
Since 2009, RMF has been working to help the people of South Sudan recover from decades of civil war, which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and healthcare system. RMF initiated, co-founded, and continues to support the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery, supports the Juba Teaching Hospital, and in December 2014, became the UNICEF implementing partner for malnutrition treatment and prevention in Jonglei State and the greater Pibor Administrative Area. Even after renewed fighting broke out in July 2016, RMF’s in-country teams have continued these programs. RMF has also been providing health services, school support for children, and vocational training to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda’s Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement since 2008, and was appointed UNHCR Health Implementing Partner in 2014.
To accommodate the large numbers of South Sudanese refugees fleeing to Uganda (between July 1, 2016 and September 21, 2016, there were 163,540 new arrivals), the Ugandan Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the UNHCR, in partnership with RMF and other organizations, opened the new Bidibidi Refugee Settlement on August 5, 2016. Bidibidi is located near the South Sudanese border in the Yumbe district of West Nile, Uganda, and has the capacity to support 180,000 refugees. Bidibidi is being built from the ground up, and during August 2016, 31,902 refugees were relocated to the settlement. Real Medicine Foundation is the main UNHCR Health Implementing Partner for Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, and between August 5, 2016 and August 31, 2016, 5,331 patients were treated at RMF’s health clinic.
- To provide residents of Bidibidi Refugee Settlement with high quality primary health care
- To maintain easily accessible, fully staffed, fully stocked health clinics
- To provide referrals to secondary and tertiary care centers when needed
- To provide health education and early detection through health outreaches
- To provide support to Yumbe District Hospital
Click to enlarge
Currently, Bidibidi Refugee Settlement is divided into 5 zones, and as of early October, Bidibidi’s 3 zones are occupied by a population of 131,352 refugees.
Zone 4 and Zone 5 are to be opened at any time now, because the influx is increasing. Bidibidi Refugee settlement was originally designed/estimated to accommodate 100,000 refugees, but with new areas opening, its estimated capacity is 180,000.