An MCC partner organization, the Mengo Hospital Home Care and Counselling Clinic, provides physical, emotional and spiritual care for people living with HIV in and around the city of Kampala, Uganda. MCC supports the clinic’s weekly home visit program, as well as providing funding for clubs for children and adolescents living with HIV and stipends for staff.
Regina Nuwagaba, a member of the clinical support staff at the Mengo Hospital Home Care and Counselling Clinic, organizes records in a room next to the reception desk. More than 5,000 HIV-positive clients come to the clinic for care, and an average of 1,500 additional people are tested for HIV each month.
Children use a playground at the clinic as they wait their turn to be seen by staff. For children living with HIV, the clinic provides not only treatment but a range of support, including school fees and supplies. “I am very grateful to Mengo, because otherwise I wouldn’t get any money for his education,” says Milly Nakasujja, who is raising a 13-year-old grandson Francis Kalanzi. “All the clothes Francis is putting on are from the organization; almost everything the boy has is from Mengo.” (Read more about this family.)
Not all patients are well enough to come in for treatment. Each week, staff members head out into the streets of Kampala to reach patients who would not otherwise receive treatment. Chaplain Samuel Mahulu, left, and nurse Jude Mwaita, part of a home care team, carry supplies from their vehicle during one of their home care days.
During a home care visit, Asifiwe Mumbere checks the blood pressure of 38-year-old Aisha Nabiyisha, a mother of seven who is living with HIV. In addition to HIV, she is struggling with congestive heart failure and hypertension. Mumbere is a clinical assistant, comparable to a physician’s assistant.
Photographs show a healthier time for 38-year-old Aisha Nabiyisha, who is in the middle in this family photo. Today, Nabiyisha, who receives regular home care visits, urges others to be tested for HIV and get access to medical treatment.
As people face the progression of HIV and related illnesses, they need more than care for their bodies. Mengo clinic staff also offer spiritual and emotional support, talking with patients and family members about their lives and listening to their struggles. Chaplain Samuel Mahulu, part of the home care team, prays with home care patient Kityo Isaac, middle, and Seggane Baker.
A critical part of caring for women living with HIV is preventing the spread of the virus from mother to child. Nurse Valentine Nsamba meets with Pamela Masiza and her son Brik Lee. While Masiza is living with HIV, her son, who is 2 and a half months old, has so far tested negative for the virus. MCC supports HIV testing for pregnant mothers. Those who are positive receive antiretroviral medications and counseling to prevent the transmission of HIV to their child. Of the pregnant mothers treated at the clinic, 98 percent have been able to prevent infecting their child with HIV.
One Saturday a month, clinic staff, including Dr. Margaret Mbabazi, meet with a group of teenagers and young adults living with HIV. Young people have a chance to socialize, discuss problems and learn more about HIV. Topics such as abstinence and self-control are stressed, as well as protection from sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. MCC sponsors the gathering, as well as clubs at the same time for primary-school children with HIV and the children’s caregivers.
When 19-year-old Samuel Baguma, shown talking with Mengo clinic’s Dr. Margaret Mbabazi, first learned he was HIV-positive, “I thought to myself, should I kill myself or what?” He gradually found hope through Mengo clinic and now helps lead small-group discussions for the club for young adults with HIV. “I think I can live more than 50 years,” he says. “When you are taking medicine well and you are not missing your appointments, you can live.” Read more in the fall issue of A Common Place magazine.