Reading the signs

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Seek firstMaybe it’s my training as a journalist — knowing that every whiff, sound, and sight might whisper a crucial part of the story I’m trying to grasp, and eventually tell. One facet of that story at Naggalama Hospital was the collection of signs scattered around the campus. In pictures and printed words, they revealed priorities, attitudes, and struggles at this rural Uganda hospital.

HIV testing and treatment. One of the few free things at Naggalama Hospital is HIV testing. HIV/AIDS is much more widespread in Uganda (and the rest of Africa) than in the United States. And it’s a major public health priority.

Malaria treatment. This is another major health issue in Uganda. Mosquitoes carry the disease, so people are encouraged to sleep under netting at night to prevent infection.

Malaria treatment

Blood tests. Some of the same laboratory tests that are done in U.S. hospitals are available at Naggalama, as evidenced by this sign. However, due mainly to cost (from my understanding), these tests are rarely done, even for the sickest patients.

Available blood tests