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February 27, 2014

Ugandan nurse speaks to club about health care, sanitation issues

NORMAN — Oklahoma advocates who serve through the Tulsa-based Bushenyi Alliance of Rural Health and Development are addressing lack of medical care, the need for good water, little education on health care and sanitation in Uganda.

Sister Ephrance, a nurse and program manager in Uganda, was in Norman last week to visit with local groups that provide support to BARHD.

BARHD’s influence is seen through the work of several medical clinics established in the rural Bushenyi area of southwest Uganda, as well as funding many orphaned students to get an education beyond the elementary level provided by the Ugandan government.

“We assist and empower communities on raising their standard of living and providing primary health care,” Ephrance said. (“Sister” is an honorific, not a religious title.)

Having worked in health care in Uganda for 27 years, Ephrance has seen major improvement in this area of the Bushenyi region since BARHD was formed in 2006.

“We have had great success,” she said of the four medical clinics now in operation. One of those clinics is named “Dr. B Clinic” in honor of the late Norman physician Dr. Hal Belknap. The clinics served nearly 24,000 people last year.

Signs of growth in providing medical services are new maternity clinics.

“Most mothers give birth in their homes, but the clinics provide a safe and sanitary place for the birth and care of the baby and mother,” Ephrance said.

There is an ongoing need for medical supply funds, she said, and they welcome visiting Americans who bring medical and dental expertise to supplement their small staff.

Clean water is being made possible through wells dug through the support of BARHD and other agencies. Without the wells, residents use ponds and streams for water, the same ponds and streams used by cattle in the farming area.

Mosquitos thrive in that environment. Norman resident Amy Williams, president of the BARHD board, delivered the 10,000th mosquito net to a Ugandan mother on a trip to Uganda last summer.

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