Alim Health Center II: Where Nurses Haul Water Before They Can Care for Patients
Imelda Amoding is the health assistant at Alim Health Center II in Pader, Uganda. For several months her days started with a trek from the center’s staff quarters to a borehole well at the nearby trading center. The well at the health center had stopped working two months before, forcing Imelda and the rest of the staff to make the half a mile walk to the well every morning before work. The center treats 150-200 patients on an average day, so the amount of water the staff could carry was never enough to last the whole day.
Imelda reported with a resigned look “Most times we are not given special treatment at the borehole. We are made to queue together with the rest of the community members”. This meant that not only did the staff walk a mile in the hot sun to collect water, but they also had to wait in a slow moving line. The walking and standing in line often made them late to work.
The situation at the health center was also bad. Patients were often without the water they needed to take their medications. When there was a water source nearby the patients would use their own containers to get water from the well. Now their only option was to go to the staff quarters for water. Without water to wash the cups between uses, Imelda and the other staff were worried about the risks that come with sharing. The lack of accessible water also meant less hand washing, which is a vital part of stopping the spread of coronavirus. As a temporary solution, rainwater was being collected to supplement the water from the trading center, but even that dried up when the dry season arrived.
The Alim Health Center II was due to be upgraded to a Health Center III, which would be a significant improvement. With the upgrade they would get a senior clinical officer (very similar to a doctor, which level II health facilities do not have), and a maternity ward. This would allow them to serve the community more effectively, but the decision to upgrade was dependent on patient numbers, which had fallen since the well broke.
Drop in the Bucket did a survey at Alim and found that there was a strong chance we would be able to hit water there, so with a generous donation from one of our donors, we were able to drill a well at Alim and provide the facility with its own source of clean water.