Mulago Speech Therapy Project, Kampala, Uganda

Children at the Mulago clinic

Deborah Greenaway, Speech and Language Sciences

There are thought to be at least 2.6 million people in Uganda with communication disorders, with only three speech and language Therapists. They have the challenging job of providing advice and therapy to people who travel across Uganda for their free but limited services at Mulago Hospital, Kampala.

At the Mulago clinic I was confronted with a huge variety of cases which I had the privilege to observe and assist: from children with disabilities (often as a result of malaria or meningitis), inappropriate language due to life experiences of child refugees or unrepaired cleft palates, to adults who had lost language as a result of head injury from violence or boda-boda (moped) accidents.     

What hit me most from this experience was the challenges faced in African speech and language therapy and the discrepancies between services provided in Africa and in the UK. It was hard to see a 3 year old boy who had his 4th stroke due to sickle cell disease, and his desperate mother who did not have the support she should.

As a result of my trip I hope to continue support to the Ugandan speech and language therapy course by getting Newcastle students involved in creating resource packs for the Ugandan students and encouraging Newcastle lecturers to teach in Uganda. Through collaboration with the speech and language therapists and students in Uganda this was agreed to be the most useful way to support them with their most significant challenges.

Many thanks to the ncl+ Foundation whose funding and support helped me get to Africa for this special learning experience, and has hopefully sparked the beginning of ongoing support to the sustainable development of speech and language therapy in Uganda.