Uganda’s been in the news a lot lately:
- An outbreak of deadly Ebola (now declared over).
- The country’s celebration of its 50th anniversary of gaining independence from Britain (along with the perhaps less-celebrated 26th anniversary of President Yoweri Museveni’s refusal to relinquish power).
- The next phase of the bizarre “social-mediated” hunt for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.
- Uganda’s crackdown on the ‘crime of homosexuality.’
- An update on the corruption probe, started in 2009, of the country’s mismanagement of foreign money donated to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
So, you can imagine, I had a lot of questions for Uganda’s Minister of Health Christine Ondoa, a pediatrician and pastor, and one of her traveling companions, Ugandan Parliamentarian Tim Lwanga. Ondoa has been in Seattle for the last few days to meet with a number of local organizations, talking about collaborating on projects aimed at improving health in the poor East African nation.
“The main challenges are the infectious and communicable diseases, especially malaria,” said Ondoa, who while in town met with folks at Gates Foundation, PATH, World Vision and also at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to discuss the Seattle cancer center’s ongoing project with the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala.
(I suspect the Fred Hutch folks might chafe at the claim malaria is Uganda’s biggest health problem. The cancer community is part of a broader campaign out there contending non-communicable diseases like cancer deserve equal attention in Uganda. As my friend and local journalist colleague Joanne Silberner has reported, cancer kills more people than HIV, TB and malaria combined.)
Uganda has all of the typical health problems of a poor African country, but Ondoa says malaria does deserve special attention Continue reading