The Supercamp Service Model
The Bulamu Supercamp model is uniquely cost-effective in providing health care to impoverished families of rural Uganda. By bringing together organizations and resources already present in Uganda, we have created a public/private partnership formula that allows everyone to win—especially the patients! The government agencies and non-profit NGOs come to our camps and provide their services free-of-charge for a simple reason: When we attract 8-15,000 patients in a week, it provides a very efficient platform for them to accomplish their own missions. Each partner organization is given a tent or space to park a van with its own equipment and staff. We are playing the role of catalyst or “Great Organizer,” bringing these service providers together in one place.
To handle the thousands of patients we treat in a week, we rent truckloads of tents, tables, and chairs and we bring in our “Core Team” of 40-45 experienced Bulamu department supervisors. This team explains how the camp will operate to a temporary staff of 200+ Ugandan healthcare professionals and support personnel. The local District Government assists with publicity, staff recruiting, security, ambulances, and crowd control.
Through the third quarter of 2019 we have served 49,449 patients, for whom we have provided 74,221 treatments, a ratio of 150% or 1.5 procedures for every attendee. This unique range of services provides our patients with one-stop shopping and is attracting them from longer distances, a key reason why our patient counts have been growing steadily—a jump of 40% this year over last.
How Our Supercamps Work
We start with staff orientation on Saturday and Sunday, after which we are ready to treat more than 3,000 Ugandans per day starting Monday morning. While most primary care in sub-Saharan Africa is provided by nurses, at a Bulamu Supercamp every patient will be assessed, triaged, and seen by a doctor if appropriate. We use a custom-designed tent with 20 treatment spaces staffed by doctors, who examine and diagnose the patients and prescribe medications. We keep several operating theaters busy the entire week, performing from 150 to 400 surgeries.
For most patients, the last step in the process is a visit to the pharmacy, which we stock with enough medicine to treat 16,000 patients. If the patient requires off-premises imaging or referral to an acute care hospital, we arrange that under the Bulamu Angel Program. Besides providing medical treatments, our camps also offer public health workshops on hygiene, dental care, women’s anatomy, HIV prevention, and pre- and post-natal care. One popular daily workshop is RUMPs training for teenage girls, who are provided with materials and learn how to sew their own Re-Usable Menstrual Pads so that they can avoid missing school for several days each month.
What makes the Bulamu Supercamp model unique is the broad range of free medical services we provide combined with the remarkable cost-effectiveness of our formula, which builds on local Ugandan resources already in place. There is nothing like it in Africa!