Course participants practising suturing
Land and People: Uganda is a land-locked republic on the equator in central Africa, bordering Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. English is the official language. Kampala is the capital city. The monetary unit is the Ugandan shilling. Some 33.8million people live in Uganda, most of the population is Christian. There is a sizeable Muslim minority of about 12% of the population. The president of Uganda is Yoweri Kaguta Musevini.
Uganda's climate is tropical; generally rainy with two dry seasons (December to February, June to August). Almost a third of Uganda is covered by water. Much of Uganda can be classified as a plateau, with numerous small hills and valleys and extensive savanna plains as well as swamp.
Life expectancy in Uganda is just 55 years. Just over 2% of the population is over 65. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says only 49% of households in Uganda have access to health care facilities. It says such access has been limited by "poor infrastructure", especially in the rural areas where the majority of the population live. The Ugandan Government has developed a "Health Sector Strategic Plan" which tries to address the issue.
The WHO also says: "The human resource base for the health sector is grossly inadequate. Therefore... capacity building of the human resource base is one important aspect that the Government is addressing". Household incomes remain low, and the organisation says the status of poverty is contributing to the poor health status of the population.
Patients assessed at clinic Recent surveys have indicated that 46% of the population live below absolute poverty lines that is less than $1 per day. A national survey of poor people indicated that possibly one of the major causes of poverty is poor health (according to a Ministry of Finance Survey in 1997). Other factors include poor literacy rates, high prevalence of communicable diseases and what the WHO calls an "inadequate provision of social services and widespread underdevelopment".
The Republic of Uganda has had a turbulent past. It declared its independence from the UK in October 1962 when Milton Obote, leader of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), was elected Prime Minister. He was overthrown by a former paratroop sergeant Idi Amin in 1971 who went on to establish a brutal regime. The Asian community was expelled and intellectuals persecuted.
Amin was overthrown and elections in 1980 returned Obote's UPC to power. A civil war followed when his mandate was disputed, and Obote was overthrown in 1985.
The current president Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986. Progress has been made in bringing stability, peace and economic prosperity to the country since then.