Financial crisis hurts children’s hospital ministry in Uganda

By January 7, 2009

Uganda (MNN) — While Uganda has made significant progress
in its fight against poverty, the global financial crisis is crushing.

Derek Johnson with
CURE International says their children's
hospital is feeling the impact.

The CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda (CCHU) in Mbale,
Uganda, is a 30-bed teaching hospital specializing in treating the
neurosurgical needs of children with an emphasis on hydrocephalus, neural tube
defects, spina bifida, epilepsy and brain tumors. CCHU also maintains a large outpatient clinic
and operates monthly mobile clinics in remote regions.

When they first began in 2000, the cases they saw were
severe. However, Johnson says awareness
and education have helped catch the disorders earlier. New research is underway
to determine the causes of hydrocephalus that are linked to the rural areas.

But all of this work and the expansions CURE is working
toward in 2009 are threatened by the disastrous economic situation around the

In Uganda, poverty is growing once more. "We've seen
around 15 to 16 percent inflation for 2008, which is the highest on record
since they started recording inflation in Uganda. That's mostly with fuel, food and other
household goods."

Since 1986, Uganda has transformed from a nearly-failed
state to a country that has achieved consistently high economic growth
rates.   Unfortunately, income
inequality and a high population growth rate have negated the positive  growth. 

With the devaluation of their money, increasing unemployment
and higher costs, some families will have to make a difficult choice between
their survival and a needed surgery to correct a disability. 

However, Johnson says they serve those who need their help,
regardless of their ability to pay. The
operations can be life-changing in more ways than one. "The number one thing I hear is how much
our staff treats them with respect, love and compassion. That makes an impact
on people, and they will want to understand more about why this hospital is
different from other hospitals in Uganda. That's a great gate for the
Gospel because that gives us a chance — our spiritual team as well as our staff — to share,  'Here's who we are as
Christian men and women.'"

That's the good news. The bad news is that with the rising inflation, funds don't stretch very
far. Donations are down, too.  

CCHU has 30 in-patient beds and 10 intensive care beds and
maintains a busy out-patient clinic. They operate mobile medical clinics that
find hundreds of children who are suffering from disabilities in remote areas
and whenever possible, transports the children back to the hospital for care.  Click
here if you can help.


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