Industry News

Acupuncture in Uganda with the PAAP

by John Stan | Dec 17, 2008
In August 2008, six North American acupuncturists and TCM Practitioners, including Emilie Salomons, traveled to Uganda to teach healthcare workers basic acupuncture protocols.

The focus was to address symptoms of HIV, TB and Malaria. Thanks to Eastern Currents and other donors, the PanAfrican Acupuncture Project was able to successfully train 56 nurses and Traditional African Practitioners and provide them with needles and treatment supplies.

Read below for Emilie Salomon’s firsthand account of the training…

"As we approached the Kisoro hospital on our fourth day in town, we could see a lineup of patients winding through the courtyard and reaching around the building right up to the exit. It was 8:30 in the morning and already about two hundred people had lined up for acupuncture; the group at the front of the line had even slept overnight to ensure they received treatment. It was clear that it would be a busy day.

 
Kisoro is located on the southern tip of Uganda, bordering Congo and Rwanda. The cultural influence of its neighbours is very apparent in the area, who for over two decades have been escaping their turbulent homes in favor of the stability of Uganda. What is also apparent in the region is the toll that the mental and physical trauma of war, genocide, displacement, poverty and a general struggle for survival has taken upon its inhabitants.
 
The Pan African Acupuncture Project (PAAP) has now trained 162 healthcare workers throughout nine districts around Uganda. The healthcare workers have then introduced acupuncture as a new treatment tool into their small, rural health centres, clinics and hospitals. Kisoro Hospital was one of the largest and most advanced centres we had trained in to date, although its lack of functioning equipment demonstrated the great need for new, affordable and sustainable treatment tools such as acupuncture. The hundreds of patients who traveled from all around the district to receive treatment only emphasized this void in the current healthcare system.
 
The hospital superintendent was ecstatic about our training week in his hospital. He mentioned that although he had initially been unsure about what acupuncture actually was, the fact that our acupuncture clinic had managed to clear all of his hospital wards of patients certainly cemented his support for our work.
 
Pain was a very common complaint among patients, including chest pain, abdominal pain, headaches and musculoskeletal pain. Because of the strenuous way of life and limited healthcare in rural areas, many injuries had been left untreated for years. We also encountered many patients suffering from cysts, STDs, fungal infections and malaria whose health issues had long been without medical attention. In fact, we were often the first medical professionals to address the complaint.
 
As the word on the efficacy of the treatments spread throughout the community, so did the growth of our line of patients. The word was out, the acupuncture clinic was here, and its doors were open to everyone!
 
Upon our departure, as we had done the week prior in Mukono, a town just north of the capital, we informed our patients on the location of the clinics where the newly graduated 'acupuncture protocol specialists' were working. This way, patients could continue their treatments once we left. So, with smiling trainees, a very pleased hospital staff and the head of district health services bidding us farewell, the PAAP team headed off on our mountainous 14-hour, 300km journey back to the capital.
Two more districts, another 52 acupuncture trained healthcare workers later, my second trip with the Pan African Acupuncture Project in Uganda was a fabulous success."
 
For more information on the PanAfrican Acupuncture Project, please click here.
 
Emilie Salomons is a licensed Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Vancouver, BC
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