In 1996 a small clinic was set up by Dr. Bea Andersen – Schipper, Director of Mount Elgon Orchards Ltd.
For 10 years the clinic was operating from a residential house on the farm. During this period the main external donor was the Foundation SOK from the Netherlands. With the help of DEG (the German Development Bank) the company was able to build a new health facility in 2007. The new facility is well equipped and fulfills a regional function.
The new hospital employs 30 staff and offers the following services:
Inpatient department with maternity and 16 beds
Per year more than 35.000 people visit the facility and more than 1.000 patients are admitted.
Mount Elgon Orchards is located right on the Ugandan border, close to the epicentre of the start of the Aids epidemic. From the screening of blood donors during the period from 2000 – 2005 it became clear that about 11% of the population was infected with HIV.
The community is very closely knit with many behavioral customs that have an unwanted effect on the spread of the disease such as: having many wives (sometimes 3 or 4), mass circumcision, and witch craft practices involving cutting of skin.
Because the community is quite isolated there had not been much exposure to the national activities in the field of creating HIV/Aids awareness. There was great stigma attached to the disease until 2005.
Since 1998 the farm has made an effort to try and develop more awareness among the people and thus reduce the stigma. This proved very difficult until in 2005 when the anti retroviral drugs became available at a much lower cost. Suddenly the hope for treatment outweighed the fear of stigma and people started coming forward.
At that time we launched the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centre.
Running a comprehensive Care Center with the following departments.
Networking with all stakeholders involved: NGO’s, Ministry of Health, people living with HIV, community leaders, Ministry of Education amongst others.
Currently we have some 600 people on treatment.
The ministry of health is providing the following supplies: ARV drugs, TB drugs, STI drugs, test kits, mosquito nets, condoms.
Trainings have taken place for community leaders, HR staff, Peer educators and Self help groups.
Running a mobile VCT in the villages testing som 4000 people per year.
Aids Orphans and other vulnerable children were identified by the communities where the employees live. The trust was asked to assist and with the help of the DEG bank and Mount Elgon Orchards a beautiful home was built for the orphans. The most desperate cases have been enrolled in the children’s home (up to 48 children). Mount Elgon together with afford Australia are supporting these children. Other children will have to be fostered by their relatives in the community with support from the Trust for those families to be able to feed the children, give proper shelter, food and education.