Conference abstract

Rapid health assessment of newly arriving refugees at Adjumani Refugee Camps, Northern Uganda, August 2016

Pan African Medical Journal - Conference Proceedings. 2017:6(19).21 Dec 2017.
doi: 10.11604/pamj-cp.2017.6.19.501

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Keywords: Emergencies, refugees, disease outbreaks, South Sudan, Uganda

Rapid health assessment of newly arriving refugees at Adjumani Refugee Camps, Northern Uganda, August 2016

Susan Nakubulwa1,&, Joy Kusiima1, Joyce Nguna1, Joan Mutyoba2, Daniel Kadobera1, Alex Riolexus Ario1

1Uganda Public Health Fellowship Program, Kampala, Uganda, 2Makerere University School of Public Health, Kampala, Uganda

&Corresponding author
Susan Nakubulwa, Uganda Public Health Fellowship Program, Kampala, Uganda


Introduction: fresh political clashes in South Sudan led to an influx of > 40,000 refugees to Adjumani District, Northern Uganda in July 2016. This influx overstretched Adjumani Refugee Campís capacity to manage refugees, potentially creating a fertile ground for disease outbreaks. We conducted a rapid health assessment to assess health status, identify potential public health threats, and recommend evidence-based interventions.

Methods: we used a structured questionnaire to collect data among a convenient sample of refugees through face-to-face interviews. We interviewed health workers using a standardized checklist on the availability of essential health services. We determined the presence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) using mid-upper arm circumference. We collected data on water, sanitation, hygiene promotion and shelter through on-site observations and record reviews. Refugees voluntarily sought participation during the assessment.

Results: we interviewed 197 refugees. The ratio of latrine stances to persons was 1:223 (vs. recommended 1:50). Water supply was 7.8 liters/person/day (vs. recommended 15 liters). Of 131 refugees who had various ailments, 49 (37%) did not utilize the health services provided by relief agencies. Of the 197 refugees interviewed, 175 (89%) did not have mosquito nets. GAM was present in 520 (6.8%) of 7,544 children aged 6 - 59 months screened at the Elegu border. A double portion for lunch and supper was served once, and supper was eaten without heating. We observed poor hygienic practices, including open defecation, use of unsafe water collected from a nearby river for drinking and daily utility, poor sewage drainage, and overcrowding in shelters. Hand washing facilities were insufficient. Self-disposal of placentae post-delivery was reported.

Conclusion: inadequacies in basic sanitary supplies, hygienic practices, and disease prevention measures make this refugee camp vulnerable for disease outbreaks. We recommended provision of hand-washing facilities, safe water, excreta disposal facilities, and health education to the refugees.