Uganda (MNN) — The World Health Organization says 81 new Ebola cases emerge each week in the Congo, making this outbreak the second largest in history. Of the 2,765 confirmed Ebola cases, 1,808 people lost their lives.
Ebola presents a massive public health threat for neighboring Uganda. AMG International has yet to encounter any Ebola cases at its medical clinic and nursing school in Bugongi, Uganda.
However, the outbreak does “highlight the need for medical care in the area, and specifically for nurses,” says AMG’s Bill Passons. There’s a severe shortage of nurses and medical clinics in remote communities.
“Nurses are the first line of defense whenever we see one of these crisis come up because most people don’t have access to doctors.”
Witch doctors or which doctor?
Tribal tradition is another major threat to public health, especially in remote communities like Bugongi. Parents trust witch doctors more than a real doctor. Additionally, if the family lacks access to a medical facility, witch doctors become their only option.
“There is a grip, this spiritual warfare… they use their influence and intimidation to control people,” Passons says, referring to the witch doctors. “It’s something we interact with on a regular basis.”
AMG began partnering with local believers in Bugongi several years ago. They operate a child and youth development center that serves 300 children in need, along with a small medical clinic and dispensary. This rural community of 12,000 people lives in a 14 square mile area.
Parents’ mistrust of “outsiders” and witch doctors’ widespread control result in deadly consequences. In the past, AMG staff noticed children requiring immediate medical attention. “We’re begging the parents to allow us to take them to medical facilities, and [the parents say], ‘No, we’re going to trust the witch doctor,” Passons recalls.
“At least a couple of those kids have passed away while being treated by the witch doctor.”
From the darkness presented by this problem emerged one of AMG’s most influential programs – the Bugongi College of Nursing and Midwifery.
Nursing school provides new options
AMG’s Bugongi College of Nursing and Midwifery began in late 2017 with 14 students. Enrollment grew to 57 students last year, and 60 new nursing students joined the program earlier this month. “One huge praise – all of our first-year students passed their (national) exams at the end of the first year,” Passons shares. All of the second-year students passed as well.
AMG wants to expand this program to include a new building in the coming months, and mobile clinics in the next few years. A matching grant will help them gain significant ground by doubling every gift made between now and the end of September.
“We feel like God has called us to start the next phase of this expansion in November so we’re praying that God would be able to raise [the needed] funds with this matching grant in the next in the next month or so,” Passons says.
The nursing college needs a new building to accommodate the additional students, providing space for classrooms, skill labs, library expansion, and a computer room. The total cost of this project is $150,000.
Most importantly, surround this project in prayer. “We’re meeting tangible needs with healthcare, but we’re also sharing the Gospel,” Passons states.
“A nurse that knows Christ as [their] personal Savior has a compassion and care for people that can’t be duplicated.”
Header image courtesy of AMG International.