Category Archives: hygiene

Can traditional and western medicine co-exist?

By Madeleine Finney-Brown

I was recently given the opportunity to meet with a traditional healer in the village of Mukono. As a medical student, I was interested to hear about how he diagnosed his patients, and what treatments he used. I was also keen to find out about his opinion of western medicine, particularly (as relevant to the work of CTPH) regarding contraception.

the Traditional Healer

Upon arriving at the traditional healer’s home, we were warmly welcomed and shown to a building where he sees his patients and keeps his medicines. I was surprised to learn that many of his examination and diagnostic techniques were not so different from my own! giving an immunisation to an infant in the Batwa village

Although I didn’t recognize most of the plants he showed us, I wondered if many were infact ingredients in the medicines we use, as I know many western medications contain natural products. My concern with the traditional healer’s herbs is not their effectiveness, but their potency (amount required to produce an effect of given intensity), as quantities are much more difficult to regulate.


When asked about contraceptive, the old man replied that he had two traditional methods, but that these days he more commonly recommended conventional contraceptives- referring women to his wife (who is, in-fact, a CTPH CCHV), and speaking with the men himself.

MPH students Stella and Cait with Stephen in the lab

All-in-all, it was a very interesting visit, and I certainly feel there is a role for traditional healers. I feel that traditional and western medicine should be collaborative, and I certainly will carry this idea forth into my future practice as a doctor.





Joseph asking the survey questions to a woman from Kishanda in Bujengwe parish


A student’s conservation efforts in Uganda

Melinda Hershey, a fourth-year health education undergraduate student, is spending her final quarter at UC interninguganda2 in Uganda with an organization called Conservation Through Public Health. During her ten weeks in Uganda, Melinda will conduct sanitation and family planning surveys throughout the Bwindi area, and develop materials to complement these efforts.

She is primarily working with the Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) group located at a camp in Bwindi, meeting members of the community and working with them on issues that affect public health and population, like sanitation and family planning.

CPTH began as a conservation effort aimed to protect the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas in the Ugandan region. When it became clear that this area, also one of the most impoverished nations in the world, was experiencing the transmission of deadly diseases between animals and humans, the focus turned to improving public health and hygiene. They soon saw the benefits not only to the region’s population, but also to protect a sustainable source of income from gorilla tourism.

Melinda has already reported back to her UC professors this summer with a wealth of interesting experiences. “I traveled to Queen Elizabeth National Park to participate in a fact-finding mission about an Anthrax outbreak among hippos. This is a huge problem because there are not enough resources to dispose of the hippos, therefore causing a threat to the local human population as well.”

Melinda’s fieldwork began in July in the Mukono district, visiting the homes of community members. “I checked several elements of hygiene within their homes (latrines, showers, water storage) and also spoke to them about family planning. They speak a local language (Rukiga) so I had a translator with me to interpret,” says Melinda. She has also visited two schools to speak with them about hygiene and family planning issues. “This community has an overwhelming need for better hygiene and sanitation education and resources, and they still have a lot to learn about appropriate methods of family planning. Hopefully we will be able to gather some good data to make a case for funding more endeavors.”

Melinda also noted that she had the opportunity to meet a local medicine man and see his office. She also witnessed the making of banana gin, called Waragi, being made while she was out and about in the community.

Aside from learning about Uganda’s health, Melinda hopes to absorb as much of the unique culture as possible. You can learn more about the mission of Conservation Through Public Health at

Providing critical veterinary services where there are no vets

CTPH‘s veterinary team together with teams from the University of Barcelona in Spain, the Andorran government and the Ugandan Ministries of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and Health (MoH)’s Vector Control Division spent three weeks treating livestock belonging to the impoverished communities living around Bwindi Impenetrable and Queen Elizabeth National Parks in the biodiversity rich Albertine rift of East and Central Africa. These communities and their animals often come into contact with wildlife including the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Such interventions help ascertain the risk the communities pose to wildlife.

Veterinary staff from Spain, Andorra, MAAIF, MoH and CTPH pose for a group photo

Veterinary staff from Spain, Andorra, MAAIF, MoH and CTPH pose for a group photo

CTPH's founder and CEO Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka drawing a blood sample from agoat. Restarinign the goat is Dr. Ignaci from the University of Barcelona, Spain

CTPH's founder and CEO Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka drawing a blood sample from a goat. Restraining the goat is Dr. Ignaci from the University of Barcelona, Spain

CTPH's Chief Veterinary Technician Mr. Stephen Rubanga drawing blood from a cow. Looking on is CTPH's Dr. Abdulhameed Kateregga

CTPH's Chief Veterinary Technician Mr. Stephen Rubanga drawing blood from a cow. Looking on is CTPH's Dr. Abdulhameed Kateregga

Positive change to the communities living near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Miriam Bifumbo is a Community Conservation Health Worker (CCHW) whose village Mukono is frequently visited by the two gorilla groups of Rushegura and Mubare. Her husband is a traditional healer. People from her village are amazed to see the communities living near the protected area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park changing the way of living in a positive way. The above has been attributed to CTPH work and the commitment it has on the poorest people living around the protected areas.

Children from Nyamishamba playing in front of their household

Children playing in front of their home.

On 3rd January 2011, David Matsiko and Alex Ngabirano, both working with CTPH  visited Miriam Bifumbo. She narrated what she thinks the community have benefited from Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) programs since she took up her volunteer position with CTPH in 2007.

Miriam Bifumbo said that CTPH programs have changed the communities in a very positive way. ‘’Since 2007 I have noticed an improvement in very many households in my village. People sweep their houses and compounds, women no longer give birth at home  but rather at hospital, and there is improved hygiene and sanitation especially in women whenever they are passing through public places” Miriam stated.


Community Conservation Health Workers (CCHWs) attending a Population Health and Environment (PHE) monthly meeting

She added that many people drink boiled water and have clean containers.  Men who did not mind about family planning have now started understanding the importance of family planning and sometimes accompany their women whenever they are going to get family planning service from the CCHWs. Many women now space child births by at least 2 years.  The above are attributed to the three CTPH programs that have contributed to the co-existence of people, wildlife and livestock.


CTPH was represented at the 2010 Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) Veterinary Workshop by Dr. Abdulhameed Kateregga. The workshop ran from the 14th – 20th November 2010. He gave a presentation about CTPH‘s work around protected areas in Africa.

Dr. Abdulhameed Kateregga giving a presentation at the PASA workshop

Dr. Abdulhameed Kateregga giving a presentation at the PASA workshop. Looking on is PASA and Chester Zoo's Steve Unwin


CTPH Founder and CEO Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is runner up for the Conde Nast Traveler 21st Annual Environmental Award for her efforts towards conserving the endangered mountain gorillas. Dr. Gladys, as she is known locally, founded Conservation Through Public Health in 2002 (CTPH) to improve the health of Uganda’s mountain gorillas by focusing on improving the health of the people and livestock around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Dr. Gladys in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest tracking the endangered mountain gorillas

Dr. Gladys in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest tracking the endangered mountain gorillas


Kyambura gorge, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

CTPH founder and CEO Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka and her wildlife-loving son Ndhego admiring the picturesque Kyambura Gorge where at least 15 of the 83 Hippos are reported to have died of Anthrax in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.

Kyambura gorge

Kyambura gorge

CTPH is part of the National Task Force that is battling the Anthrax outbreak.

Safe water access in Kyumbugushu village adjacent to Bwindi

Hello this is Joseph Byonanebye, CTPH’s new Community Health Coordinator!

Very often one takes it for granted that communities in which we live and work have most of basics for good health. Kyumbugushu village in Bwindi, South Western Uganda is unexceptional. This humble beautiful green village is located about 30 minutes drive from Conservation Though Public Health’s (CTPH) Gorilla Research Clinic in Buhoma and adjacent to the well known Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that hosts mountain gorillas in Uganda.

Access to safe water is still a challenge in most villages, Kyumbugushu inclusive. While working with CTPH’s veterinary team to vaccinate dogs against rabies, I had an opportunity to chat with community members who had brought their dogs and also those who were watching over the rather not common activity in the area. Being a public health person, I was inquisitive to know where some of the members obtained water for domestic purposes. To my amazement, two of the men told me that ‘safe’ water is available, flowing out of the nearby hillside. They added, “we are gifted, we are better than most of the other villages”. I almost concluded that Kyumbugushu is a better village with clean and safe water.


Mr. Joseph Byonanebye-CTPH Community Health Coordinator with Mr. Boaz Mbasa at the water site

Not all that is reported available is accessible. I was fortunate to meet a lay reader Kyumbugushu Church of Uganda (C.O.U)-Mr. Boaz Mbasa, in whose church grounds CTPH was carrying out the vaccination activity. This time I asked him where he obtains water for his household, and not only if the village has safe water. He was quick enough to walk me down the valley. The valley is located almost half way between his house and the hillside where the two other men had pointed out the safe water source. In this valley, there was a slow moving stream, two cows busy standing in the waters as they quench their thirst. To me the water seemed clear, but definitely contaminated. He then explained honestly, “this is where we obtain our daily water. And even for the visitors who come to check on us, they are provided this water”. He later explained that water on the hillside is too far to be collected. It is not easy to walk up the hill to reach the source of this water. The alternative source is the open stream.

An improvement of sanitation and hygiene is key to better health for all. It is clear; access to safe water is a challenge. CTPH together with partners have done a lot to help communities. However as CTPH’s Community Health Coordinator, my view is that much has been done, and much more needs to be done.