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Uganda Exchange and Training

Thomas Walunguba, Chairman USF, gives a brief summary of the WFSAD exchange and training visit to Uganda in March 2002.

“Father Katende and I greeted WFSAD representatives Margaret Leggatt and Jim Crowe upon their arrival in Uganda. The following day, Margaret and Jim visited the Uganda Schizophrenia Fellowship (USF) headquarters, a small office at Butabika, where they were warmly welcomed by the executive members of the USF, and took part in a brief meeting. I gave some historical background about USF and spoke of its rapid progress. I spoke of the first ever training session for families and caregivers of people with mental illness which we were delighted to conduct in February 2002, with full support from the Holy Cross congregation. USF faces many challenges, which, as for any young organization from the developing world, include lack of transport, limited funds, poor communication and parents not willing to openly join the Fellowship. Margaret encouraged us to contact the Rotary Club for support.

Members of the USF who took Integrated Mental Health Care Training, 2002.    
 

Members of the USF who took Integrated Mental Health Care Training last year. Emmanuel Mufumba is all in white on the left.

 

Later our guests and some members of the USF went to make home visits. This gave our members a lot of encouragement. In the afternoon, Margaret and Jim gave a very moving health presentation to members of the USF, mental health workers, staff of Butabika Hospital, some students, as well as the Director of Butabika Hospital, Dr. Fred Kigozi and the patron of the USF, Dr. Basangwa David. The topic was Understanding Mental Illness, and it was emphasized that it is important to work with families, and that families in Uganda do not get enough training. Dr. Kigozi commended the work of WFSAD and promised full support to the USF. “I was impressed when this young man, Thomas, talked to me about your visit to this country. I am also interested in destigmatising mental illness,” Dr. Kigozi said.

During the second day the Principal Medical Officer in charge of mental health in the Ministry of Health pointed out that receiving information about mental illness was very important but that funding was limited. “We need to empower the families as they are the permanent resources in the community. Mental health must be a public issue."

The Jinja branch was the next destination. It was a colourful occasion, with home visits, sightseeing and a traditional lunch in our unfinished building. We visited the Director of Medical Services in Jinja district, who was very impressed with the way USF was educating the public through drama, songs and poems.

Ed. note: the training referred to by Thomas was conducted by Emmanuel Mufumba, a psychiatric nurse and leader of the USF in Jinja. He conducted the sessions after taking training in Prof. Ian Falloon’s “Integrated Mental Heath Care” with other members of WFSAD in 1999.