Uganda: Healthcare Implementing Partner for UNHCR at Bidibidi Refugee Settlement
Two New Ambulances to Aid in Emergencies: December 21st Progress Report
December 21, 2016
Naku Charles Lwanga and Alphonse Mwanamwolho
Summary of Activities
Bidibidi Refugee Settlement is a newly established settlement in Yumbe district, West Nile region, Uganda. Since its opening in August 2016, Bidibidi Refugee Settlement has become one of the largest refugee camps in the world, hosting more than 250,000 refugees, most of whom have recently fled the violence and instability in South Sudan. The settlement is managed by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and UNHCR, and partner organizations implement activities on behalf of the OPM and UNHCR. As UNHCR Health Implementing Partner, RMF takes the lead in primary health care, nutrition, and reproductive health.
RMF has been involved in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement since its planning stages, and was the first partner organization to arrive at the camp in preparation to receive refugees. RMF is the main UNHCR-OPM Health Implementing Partner responsible for providing primary health care, nutrition, and reproductive health in Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 4 of Bidibidi Refugee Settlement.
RMF’s key objectives:
- Improve the health status of people of concern.
- Increase accessibility to healthcare services.
- Create and facilitate an efficient referral mechanism.
All objectives aim to reduce the risk of losing lives that can be saved through prompt, professional care. In order to best serve the refugee population and achieve our objectives, RMF is providing healthcare services at both static and outreach clinics.
At static points, RMF is operating 4 large, level III health centers:
- Bidibidi I (Reception Centre Health Clinic)
- Bidibidi II Health Centre
- Iyete Health Centre
- Odravo Health Centre (Zone 4)
In line with our long-term vision to establish efficient, sustainable health care in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement and improve the overall health and wellbeing of surrounding communities, RMF believes that a durable healthcare solution includes strengthening health education and disease prevention measures. Thus, RMF has established a strong outreach team, which continually works to sensitize the community to health practices.
Helping to Support Refugees
RMF has successfully created linkages with government facilities to support refugees and strengthen the referral mechanism. We have created reliable links with both Yumbe Hospital and Arua Regional Referral Hospital to effectively handle the refugee referrals made by our doctors.
100% Increase in Access to Health Care
Containing Cholera Outbreak
In mid-August 2016, there was a cholera outbreak in the settlement, but RMF worked around the clock to successfully contain the outbreak to date. RMF has been able to increase access to primary health care by 100%. This has tremendously improved the health status of people of concern.
RMF Established Shelters
All Children Immunized
RMF has established shelters that serve as health facilities in the settlement. Currently, RMF has established 4 health facilities, which are operating 24 hours a day, and numerous outreach points. On arrival, all children under 5 years of age are immunized, and adults are medically assessed. Those who are ill receive immediate assistance.
Providing Burial Services
RMF has enhanced the peaceful coexistence of refugees and the host community through our policy of providing healthcare services to both refugees and the host community irrespective of status. RMF has been providing respectful burial services to refugees who die in the settlement. In cases where postmortem is required, RMF implements this as well. UNHCR has supplied RMF with a vehicle to provide burial transportation.
Attending to Emergencies
Medical Supplies and More
RMF has been able to purchase medicines, cleaning supplies, hospital equipment, and laboratory supplies that have helped facilitate the treatment of patients. Staff uniforms, protective gear, and gear to provide visibility were purchased. Through our partnership with the UNHCR and OPM, RMF obtained 2 ambulances that have improved and facilitated the referral mechanism. This has also created improvement in attending to emergencies.
RMF Made Official Partner
Results in Increase of Supplies
Initially, RMF started its support in Bidibidi as a UNHCR-OPM Operational Partner, but now thanks to our proven capability of providing health care in an emergency setting, RMF has been selected to be the official UNHCR-OPM Health Implementing Partner in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. This partnership has enabled RMF to recruit more staff and acquire more medical tools, including ambulances, to boost our support to refugees in the 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
Judging from current indicators, we see several opportunities for RMF to further excel in our support to refugees and host communities:
- The existing smooth collaboration between RMF, the OPM, and the UNHCR field office needs to be nurtured by all means, because it contributes to the success of the program and objectives.
- Currently, RMF is being invited to start initiatives in new locations, such as Moyo district’s Palorinya Settlement and Arua district’s Imvepi Settlement, first as Operational Partner, to be subsequently elevated to Implementing Partner.
- Many medical and non-medical professionals now want to work with RMF because of our clarified, transparent policies. This is an opportunity for RMF to hire exceptional staff members who will help lead the organization to greater heights.