Competing Demands and Limited Resources in the Context of War, Poverty and Disease: the Case of Lacor Hospital
Ayella Odong, Emintone
Onek, Paul Awil
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Difficult choices have to be made among competing demands for health care in the context of severely limited resources and persistent humanitarian crisis prevailing in Northern Uganda. In particular, the challenge of a burden of disease from largely preventable and treatable conditions, the spread of emerging or re-emerging infections, the appearance of new, previously unknown, diseases (such as Ebola), and the heavy burden of poverty and war on health, make it imperative for getting information for identifying priorities and for decision making. However, major information gaps exist, and the little data available has been provided from scattered surveys and from incomplete reporting systems. In this context, readily available information collected using standardized procedures, such as data from hospital discharge records, becomes extremely important, in that these data can provide useful indications on the health situation at a low cost, in a long-term, sustainable way. This study is based on 155,205 medical records of inpatients admitted to the Lacor Hospital during the period 1992-2002, and its objective is to describe the health profile of the population of Northern Uganda, in order to estimate the impact of war, poverty, and social disruption in terms of morbidity and mortality. It analyses also the performance of Lacor Hospital in coping with this emergency situation, exploring pathways and mechanisms that link disease patterns, hospital performance, quality of care, and health outcomes, therefore providing an example of the thinking process leading from information to decision to action.
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