The Kasese district in western Uganda is nestled between two national parks. Located hours from the capital city, Kampala, the region attracts tourists to view gorillas and mountain birds.
During my recent trip to Uganda, I met with Dr. Yusuf Baseka, the district health officer of Kasese, who described the health challenges his district faces, and his hopes for the future.
Although the national parks are beautiful and bring a much needed economic boost to the area, they also offer a challenge, Dr. Baseka explained. The population growth and fertility rate of the district are very high. With the two national parks, there is no land for expansion. The town of Kasese is rapidly becoming a slum with unsanitary conditions that are difficult to address.
Another challenge in his district is that children are not going to or staying in school. They are leaving secondary school early and engaging in risky sexual behaviors. He explains, “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in young mothers, under 18 years, some as young as 12.” Their pregnancies offer unique challenges for the health system to address.