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Health and Maternal Care

The Batwa are among the most vulnerable people in the world. Like any other people, they face medical challenges that require medicine, surgery, and sophisticated treatment. Unlike most other people, many Batwa are not in a position to receive the care that is needed. We are here to bridge that gap. 

Health and Medicine

Access to healthcare is one of the greatest challenges that the Batwa face. In the forest, they used traditional remedies using herbs and honey to alleviate all health issues, but they no longer have access to those plants after eviction. Nor do they have much access to modern medicine, as there is no clinic in Rushaga. The closest clinic to Rushaga is a place called Anthony’s clinic, some 15 km away from Rushaga. The nearest hospital is 60 km away in Kisoro. Most Batwa do not have enough money to rent a car to travel those distances, and the state of the roads makes travel via motorbike hazardous. 

Due to this, the BIEO has employed a traveling nurse, Precious Akashashaba, to make frequent trips to every Batwa settlement offering medical aid. We also implemented a pharmacy at our headquarters in Rushaga to provide access to basic medication for the surrounding communities. For more serious diagnostics we partner with Anthony’s Clinic, a small health center in nearby Rubuguri. Anthony’s clinic is able to provide bloodwork, hospital beds, and other basic services to the community at very little cost. 


Maternal Care

One particular focus area of the BIEO is maternal care. Infant mortality and death during childbirth are high among Batwa communities, especially those in rural areas. Anthony’s clinic is not equipped to handle difficult pregnancies and often has to direct patients to the hospitals in Kisoro. This means that mothers expecting a difficult delivery need to travel a distance of 60 km on bumpy dirt roads, often on a motorbike, to reach Mutolere hospital in Kisoro. This is very dangerous for both the mother and baby, and each year the Batwa community loses loved ones due to the state of the roads and lack of safe transport.

One way to prevent this from happening is to have foreknowledge of the delivery and the specifics of the pregnancy. If a mother knows when she will deliver and if she is likely to have difficulties delivering, it is easier for her to get to the hospital early and at a safe time to avoid the danger of a rushed trip to the clinic. Currently, Issa provided medical checkups and advice to mothers when he travels from community to community, but there is a limit to the number of places Issa can be at once. To expand the reach of care to the communities, the BIEO is working to partner with FetalLife, an American startup that uses at-home sensors to send data directly to an app on a physician’s phone.

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