The Bulamu Weeklong Medical Camp is now a proven vehicle for providing cost-effective primary care to the underserved population of rural Uganda. Each camp is led by Gerald Atwine and his clinical team, which spends two weeks of intense advanced planning, purchasing meds and supplies and transporting them to the site. A simple marketing campaign is launched several weeks in advance, with radio commercials aired and flyers printed and posted throughout the area. Contacts have been made with local churches and community organizations to spread the word.
The camp itself provides five days of patient treatment (Monday-Friday), with an additional two days for prep and one day for take-down. The typical camp utilizes as its hub an existing, government-operated Health Center Class IV clinic, which has three or four rooms and is staffed by at least one doctor and nurse. We then install rental tents, tables and chairs in the surrounding greenspace to handle the influx of patients.
Working through our network of contacts and partner organizations, we assemble a temporary staff of professionals whose pay ranges from $5/day for village health team members to $7/day for nurses and $16/day for doctors. To operate a camp that treats 8,000 patients in a week, such as the Mbale Camp in September 2017, we utilized 190 paid staff (some worked a partial week) and 4 volunteers.
The medical professionals we are employing have been trained in Western medicine at Ugandan universities and are employed elsewhere, as are the village health team members trained to be community health workers in the district. They are coming to work for Bulamu for a modest daily wage because of the opportunity to treat vast numbers of patients seeking care. The Bulamu phenomenon is based on our ability to put 8,000 seats in the chairs, providing an exceptionally cost-effective platform for getting heathcare professionals in front of people in need.
The typical camp now operates with a budget of about $30,000, which is divided among the following expense categories:
With this medical camp model, we are treating patients for less than $4.00 each, a platform that has to potential to impact the way healthcare is delivered in Uganda as we expand our geographic reach and increase camp frequency.