Delivering Dignity through Healthcare
Geel Medical Services is a Finalist in the Unilever Global Development Award supported by Business Fights Poverty.
We asked them some questions about their programme and the global development impacts achieved.
Q) What challenge does GEEL Medical Services (GMS) serve to change?
A) The doctor-patient ratio in rural communities in sub Saharan Africa is much lower at 1:40,000 than in urban areas where it is 1:15,000. As a result many people struggle to access healthcare.
Reproductive health is a particularly significant challenge with over 6,000 women dying every year during pregnancy and childbirth in Uganda and only half of births in rural areas take place in a health facility. The impact is felt strongly among adolescents with only 27% of girls in rural communities reaching secondary school level education and many becoming mothers in their early teens. Sadly, infant mortality among adolescent mothers in Uganda is very high at 105/1,000 live births.
As about 49% of the population in Uganda is under 15 we see that this problem is only going to increase if no solutions are developed. We wanted to develop a high quality, affordable and reliable healthcare system that could be accessed by communities across rural Uganda. We also want to support the chances of girls in rural communities reach high school.
Q) How has GMS approached creating this change?
A) At GMS we have approached this challenge in two ways to ensure that as many people as possible have access to healthcare, and knowledge to support them leading healthy lives.
We have a hospital and clinics service these cater for customers who can pay and those who cannot to ensure more people get access to healthcare, whilst also enabling our long term viability. The hospital operates 24/7 to accommodate emergency cases. The hospital includes a variety of departments, including general medicine, maternal child health care, gynecology, x-ray, ultrasound and laboratory for diagnostic services, HIV clinic, and dental. The hospital also has the capacity to admit over 20 patients overnight when needed. We are also looking at replicating this model in other regions across sub Saharan Africa where there are gaps in Health care.
Secondly we use medical outreach camps to reach those in the most rural locations. Together we have reached almost 200,000 people with healthcare services. Over 20,000 school girls have been reached with sexual and reproductive health education in a bid to reduce teenage girl pregnancy in school girls. We additionally hold free medical camps and reproductive health services and work on HIV/AIDs awareness raising.
Q) What partnerships have you established?
A) Local NGOs have been particularly important as key partners to support our medical outreach camps as they facilitate access to local schools. In addition to providing access, they also provide credibility for GMS. Maintaining strategic partnerships with larger national or international NGOs has also been important for GMS.
Investment organisations and funds have partnered with GMS and have been very committed to the social impact of our work presenting a great financial opportunity for GMS’ financial sustainability. We look forward to exploring opportunities in impact investment to further our health work.
GMS has established an interactive radio talk shows that directly engage with the local communities and even non-governmental organisations, and we’ve had really good feedback from this.
What Geel Medical Services’ CEO said:
‘Quality healthcare should be everyone’s right. But when you dig down, you see that’s far from the case’ C.E.O GEEL medical services
The Unilever Global Development Award winner will be announced at the Annual Responsible Business Gala on 11 July. For live updates from the winners please follow #BITCawards
For more information about the Business in the Community Awards please see www.bitc.org.uk/awardsbfp