The West Nile Region comprises of 9 unique districts with a diversity in history, people, and culture. Click the links to learn more about the individual districts.
West Nile is fast becoming a tourist destination in East Africa, offering visitors a myriad of exploration and relaxation sites.
MOYO. Days after the Ministry of Health declared Yellow Fever outbreak in Moyo, 15 more suspected cases have been reported in the district.
A beaming 60 year old Hellen Candiru tells the story of how she bought a goat in preparation for her funeral in 1992 almost five years after she had acquired HIV.
“When you came to the hospital, the counselors would tell you to go to a church teacher and prepare your ways before God; it wasn’t an easy feeling and one would often be left thinking about suicide” Candiru narrates.
But more traumatising was the stigma associated with the infection, slim bodies of people wasting to death, the societal stereotypes of grading people with HIV as those sexually immoral and a lack of medicines to suppress the virus meant an infected person found their way to the grave in the shortest time possible.
Based on the above reasons, it wasn’t surprising that Candiru would finally confirm her status in 1996 nearly a decade after infection, she acknowledges being pushed to test by a relentless friend.
Ms Dona Aseru also living positively fondly remembers the struggles of coming openly to declare her status in 1994.
“The first time I stepped openly at Arua police grounds, many people kept talking about me because they saw how my husband had died and kept saying she is the next; but that day I stood in the open to tell people that I am living with HIV but when I die is not upon myself” Ms Aseru narrates her ordeal.
Three decades of positive living, the reasons behind Candiru’s smile and Dona’s confidence were explainable, the trends had drastically changed.
However, the changed trends are constantly showing cracks and hearing someone equate HIV to Malaria for these group who had come from a traumatising experience in the past is simply unacceptable.
“I know HIV yesterday and HIV today is different majorly because if you look at it physically, the slim which I went through but I was lucky to bounce back and build resilience and look healthy again is no more”
“We have come a long way and had different successes but now many of the successes have been under cut because many people have said HIV is just malaria and yet it is not, Malaria is curable but HIV is not” Dona cautions.
The exhibition of HIV history in Uganda
The academy for health innovations within Infectious diseases institute (IDI) has set an exhibition to tell the stories of the history of HIV over the last 30 years in the country.
The mobile exhibitions open to the public will move to Arua town (5th to 31st March), Hoima, Rakai, Moroto, Wakiso and finally Kampala.
“In this HIV prevention journey, a lot has changed, the way we used to do social behaviour communication is different right now, for instance in the earlier years we used to have a picture of a person with slim but now you have people with smiling faces and emphasizing that it’s not a death sentence anymore” Says Ms Flavia Lubega, the project manager history of HIV exhibition.
Ms Lubega says the exhibition is aimed at helping the youth appreciate the journey in the HIV/AIDS fight.
Dr Twaha Mahaba, the regional program manager (IDI), says the exhibition will address complacency which in part had been created due to ignorance of the past.
“We have been able to get some stories of someone telling you that the HIV of the present is not as strong as that of the past and we relate it to the fact that people have not been able to see the picture of HIV”
“We believe with this exhibition, it brings an opportunity to be listened to and ask and see because there are videos and pictures and with this kind of information we believe the youth can have a behavioural change”, Dr Mahaba says.
Dr Mahaba flanked by Dr Wadria Ronald speaking to the press.
Ms Dona says the exhibition adds a more innovative means to fighting the scourge.
“We have done a lot of things but we know that HIV is dynamic and if you do the same things the same way, you will not expect to get a different result”
“So if they see the stories we have put in the exhibition, they should be able to appreciate how far we have come and if we have been relaxing, then we should be challenged to bounce back with new innovations and do something better”, she says.
The fight goes on
For those that have lived through the times like Mr Jack Kokole, the chairman of people living with HIV/AIDS in Arua, the strides made in the HIV fight are remarkable.
“In the early days, when the anthem by Philly Lutaya would play, there would only be tears but the picture has changed now, this shows the commitment of Ugandans to wipe out HIV in the country” Kokole says.
He is quick to caution that the pace in the fight must be accelerated if this ultimate goal is to be achieved.
Dr Pontious Apangu, Arua municipal medical officer says the urban areas need to step up their efforts due to a higher infection burden.
He warns that the HIV/AIDS fight must be sustained despite new emerging and more dangerous infections across the globe like the Corona Virus.
As different people are taken through the exhibition room at the Catholic centre in Arua town, one is made to appreciate how far the country has come.
But most importantly the activists championing the cause against HIV want to make it clear that the strides made must not be used as a tool for complacency.
Visistors including Rev Fr Pius Yobuta of Christ the King parish are shown through the exhibition room.
ARUA. President Yoweri Museveni in his wealth creation campaigns has over and again advised subsistence farmers never to consider tobacco as one of the crops because it would ulti..........
ADJUMANI. Ministry of Health has given Adjumani district a state of art Genexpert machine used in the testing of Tuberculosis (TB) bacterium.
ADJUMANI. Adjumani district has received brand-new Yamaha motorcycles to enhance service delivery.
ADJUMANI. Patients in Adjumani general referral hospital are crying foul over the persistent drug stock outs saying their lives are at risk.
ADJUMANI. Adjumani general hospital in Adjumani district is operating without a functional X-ray machine.
Adjumani district has been placed in the first position in West Nile Region for its outstanding performance in managing Tuberculosis (TB) cases.
ADJUMANI. Six years after Adjumani hospital operating without an x-ray machine, patients in Adjumani seeking x-ray services will now be saved from the burden of accessing costly x-ray..............
MARACHA. The ongoing construction of the Out Patient’s Department (OPD) block project at Ajikoro health centre II in Oleba sub-county has excited Maracha district leadership.
KOBOKO. There was relief at Koboko hospital on Thursday as the health facility received a consignment of four solar systems that were a donation from the investment and privatisation........
ARUA. The Arua regional blood bank has received a sh25m aid from the United Nations children fund (UNICEF) to aid the collection of blood for three months.
ARUA. Arua district council has unanimously approved an action plan that seeks to address gender-based violence (GBV) among communities.
ARUA. Authorities at Arua regional referral hospital have confirmed that the death of a 10 year old boy at the facility on Tuesday was not because of any viral hemorrhagic fever related case.
ARUA. Arua regional referral hospital that has been operating without a board of governors for the past two years has finally installed new ones.
ARUA. The management of Arua regional referral hospital has restricted entry into the facility as one of the measures aimed at curbing coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
ARUA. The state minister for primary health care Dr Joyce Moriku has ordered Arua regional referral hospital to restore key services at its laboratory before the end of March.
The West Nile region is headed for improvement in the rural water quality following the establishment of two testing laboratories.
ARUA. Enabel is injecting sh4.5b to augment the results based financing project in 49 selected health facilities in the West Nile region.
YUMBE. The local community of Romogi Sub County in Yumbe district have expressed bitterness over the poor sanitary condition of Barakala health centre III.
Community misconceptions, Drug and alcohol abuse fuelling rise in mental health sicknesses.
Ms Scovia Enzaru, (not real names), a midwifery student in one of the institutions in Arua district has battled mental complications for the last four years.
Her diagnosis at the mental health department of Arua regional referral hospital indicates mental depression that has made her a regular at this facility, she says failure to adhere to the strict medication prescriptions leads to a relapse.
Despite this major setback that makes her dizzy most of the time of the medication, Enzaru is hoping to complete her midwifery studies in 2019 and asks any other person faced with similar conditions to comply with the medication prescriptions.
Similarly, Mr Nelson Acidri (not real names) a teacher from Bileafe Sub County had just got a job with an aid organization in the refugee settlement when he started seeing signs like lighting and hearing strange things. Unfortunately, his own relatives ignored all his pleas for attention instead blaming him for drunkenness. He is now recovering from Arua regional referral hospital after his condition worsened at the resumption of his new teaching job.
The two patients are part of hundreds of people that seek services here in the department of mental health that experts say is becoming busier by the day.
Experts have as a result called on a concerted effort to deal with the drivers of the mental cases in West Nile region.
Mr Omar Candia explains a point during the interview.
“People should know that mental illnesses are just like any other disease and all such cases should therefore be taken to health units”, Mr Omar Candia, the mental health department head at Arua regional referral hospital says, on the day of the global mental health.
Candia’s plea comes at the wake of increasing cases in the region; He says the major causes of mental health illnesses in the region are drug and alcohol abuse, depression, Epilepsy, adolescent behavioural problems among others. He says youth between the ages of 15-35 form the bulk of these patients and chiefly due to substance abuse.
The world mental health day observed every 10th of October has an overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of the same.
It is intended to provide an opportunity for mental health workers to talk about their work and offer recommendations on what needs to be done to make mental health a reality for all people across the world.
According to the American psychiatric association, mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion, behaviour or a combination of these and are classified in more than 200 forms.
Candia says communities have also been hit hard with misconceptions because of little information in the society.
“Some people believe mental illness is caused by a curse, failure to pay dowry, and we are the last option; most times the attendants end up regretting and begin to lament”, he states.
The department receives between 5-10 new cases daily, 5-7 admissions and 30-50 cases who come to refill their medicine daily.
Candia says Arua district leads in the cases but others like Nebbi, Maracha, Yumbe and Moyo follow which he says could partly be because of long distance.
Smaller facilities at the districts and lower health units are ideally expected to have basic set up to manage mental cases but these, Candia says are not well managed and equipped.
The referral hospital unit is also grappling with its own challenges, out of the expected seven psychiatric Clinical officers and 10 nurses, the department has only 3 Psychiatric clinical officers one of who by press time is for a sick leave; two of the four nurses are expected to retire at the end of the year, a phenomenon that is likely to overstretch the available staff.
In May 2018, Dr David Basangwa, the executive director of Butabika national mental health referral hospital said majority of the patients admitted at the facility were University and high school students due to alcohol and drug abuse. He was quoted to have lamented on the increasing numbers.
Candia appeals to members of the public to timely report any suspected cases of mental health illness to the nearest health units for adequate management before escalation.
In 2011, the world health Organization estimated a shortage of 1.18 million mental health professionals including 55,000 psychiatrists, 628,000 nurses in mental health settings and 493,000 psycho social care providers needed to treat mental disorders in 144 low and middle income countries. It stated that the average wage bill to remove such a workforce shortage was estimated at US$4.4billion.
YUMBE. The construction works of the two elevated Mocha health centre III in Midigo sub-county and Kerwa health centre III in Kerwa sub-county in Yumbe district has reached the final stage.
PAKWACH. District councillors have approved a supplementary estimate of shs122million towards salary and allowances payments for two medical doctors recruited on a two year contract at Pakwach health centre IV by UNICEF.
PAKWACH. Lower health unit workers in Pakwach district are at risk of contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) due to inadequate protective gears.
ARUA. The State Minister of Health in charge of Primary Health Care, Dr. Joyce Moriku has come out to allay fears of possible Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Arua, saying the Chinese national who was on Sunday self-quarantined at White Castle hotel in Arua town is safe.
OBONGI: The World Food Program (WFP) has started reducing the food ration given to refugees living in the settlements of Palorinya in Obongi district.
PAKWACH. Hundreds of health service seekers at Dei health center II in Panyimur town board, Pakwach district have urged government to consider increasing the number of medical staff.
DEI Group of Industries is launching a first of its kind hand and surface sanitizer that is guaranteed to remove all viruses including the Wuhan COVID-19, the Corona Virus.
MARACHA. Locals in Maracha district are unhappy at the slow pace the construction of a maternity ward at Maracha health centre IV is taking.
KOBOKO. The delayed fulfilment of a hospital status for Koboko health centre IV has angered Koboko district officials.
PAKWACH. District health officers (DHOs) in West Nile have attributed the challenges in managing the high malaria infection rate among pregnant women in the region to inadequate logistical....
PAKWACH. A Senior District Health Official in Pakwach has cautioned private clinic operators in the area against giving positive typhoid results to patients who access their services.
YUMBE. The persistent shortage of blood in Yumbe district has been attributed to the negative attitude of the community towards blood donation.
KOBOKO. Residents of Koboko district have urged the government of Uganda to consider screening people across the border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to avert possible spread of Ebola virus into the Country.
MOYO. The State Minister of Health in charge of Primary Health Care Dr Joyce Moriku Kaduchu has asked the residents of Moyo district to desist from the social and cultural practice of shaking hands.
PAKWACH. Security officials in Pakwach district have expressed concern over a threat caused by Congolese nationals who enter into the country without passing through designated border..........
ARUA. There was excitement at Oli A and Oli B cells in River Oli Division, Arua Municipality on Monday when Robert Ejiku, one of the Arua Municipality Parliamentary by-election contenders promised to buy an Ambulance and solar panels for Oli health Centre IV.
ADJUMANI. The state minister for primary health care Dr Joyce Moriku Kaduchu has urged the local community in Adjumani district to embrace the upcoming mass immunization campaign agains....
KOBOKO. An estimated 2000 children in Koboko district are said not to have been vaccinated against measles as the disease continues to ravage in communities in the district.
ARUA. The minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Aggrey Henry Bagiire has called upon the people of the West Nile region to consider feeding their children well so as to become.....
MARACHA. Officials of Maracha district have commissioned the outpatients' department (OPD) block of their first public health centre IV.
ARUA. A total of 57 drug shops have been closed in an operation that led to the arrest of five people including a Congolese national in the West Nile region.
MARACHA. A nutrition and food security project in its second year of implementation is steadily curbing malnutrition in Maracha district, officials have said.
MOYO. President Yoweri Museveni has pledged that the government will take over the administration and management of Moyo School of nursing and midwifery.
ARUA. The government of Uganda has allocated Shs25bn for containing the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which has already hit the neighbouring Kenya and Rwanda.
ARUA. The Government of Uganda has apologized for the continued death of expectant mothers in Arua Regional Referral Hospital in Arua district, West Nile Region of Uganda.
ARUA. The Ministry of Health has announced plans to start vaccinating health workers against Ebola in the West Nile region.
MARACHA. A sub-county health official of Oleba health centre III has appealed to locals to keep hygiene and avoid eating anything while in funerals and public events.
PAKWACH. District health officers in the 11 districts of the West Nile region have urged the government to prioritize issues of health in the region if the quality of the population is....
ARUA. District hospitals and health centre IVs have been blamed for failing to prioritize the availability of safe blood in their units by ignoring to transport it.
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