What you need to know:
- Despite the risks, Ms Nambozo says the passion to serve the isolated community drives her on.
A unique video made rounds last week where a nurse in Bulambuli District was captured climbing a ladder from the foothills to the top of a mountain.
The nurse in question is Ms Agnes Nambozo, who works at Buluganya Health Centre III and on that day, she was heading to the villages of Bulegeni Sub-county to vaccinate children.
This is what Ms Nambozo has been doing for quite some time.
Dressed in her pink nursing uniform, she braves a risky wooden ladder climb of 300 metres to attend to patients in the villages that sit on the ridge of Mt Elgon.
All it takes for one to fall and possibly die is one misstep. But Ms Nambozo, 35, says the passion to serve the isolated community drives her on.
“I use the ladder because there is no other way I can reach there. At times I feel terrified,” she says with a beaming smile.
Her bravery has since earned her appreciation from across the country, with some proposing that she takes the nurse of the year award just like the nurse in Arua who wheeled a patient for about three to five kilometres after failure to get an ambulance, about two years ago.
“Absolutely speechless and touched to see this dedicated and committed enrolled nurse, Ms Agnes Nambozo from Buluganya Health Centre III. She is on her way to Masheluse Village in Nataba Parish, Young Child Clinic outreach to vaccinate children. Nurse of the year,” Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng tweeted.
Speaking about her experience, Ms Nambozo says the ladder at times becomes too slippery. But she is quick to say that with God’s protection and determination, she always reaches her destination and returns safely home.
“It’s risky but the people living there (up on the mountains) are God’s children, who need to get services like other people in other areas,” she says.
The enrolled nurse says if she decides not to go there, vulnerable people, especially the expectant mothers, will miss out on health services.
“The pregnant women and children are not brave enough to use the ladders to access medical care such as family planning and immunisation at the health centre, so I instead take risks and travel there” she says.
Ms Nambozo went to Buyaga Township Primary School before joining Muyembe High School for her O-level.
She says her parents lacked money to take her for further studies but out of luck, a local NGO enrolled her for a nursery teaching course at St Bakhita institute.
“I had no interest in teaching but since my parents couldn’t afford it, I had to settle with what was available to make ends meet,” she says.
After the course, she started teaching at a local nursery school but she was challenged by low pay.
“They never used to pay us and I became frustrated. I left teaching and asked my parents to take me back to school and do another course in nursing. They accepted,” she says.
Ms Nambozo then joined Nyega Nursing School in Buikwe District for a certificate in enrolled comprehensive nursing from 2009 until 2012 when she graduated. She went back and did a diploma in nursing, which she completed in 2018.
“For me, it was a passion from childhood when growing up, I used to see people walk about 10km to find a health worker. Many used to give birth through traditional birth attendants,” she says.
Ms Nambozi says she has worked for 10 years without any promotion.
“I would wish to further my studies but I don’t have money, if I can get a sponsorship, I will be very grateful,” she says.
Mr Jack Nasolo, the officer-in-charge of Bulunganya Health Centre III, says government should consider nurses like Nambozi to benefit from allowances given to health workers working in hard-to-reach areas.
“During the rainy season, it doesn’t favour pregnant mothers because of the terrain and the weather. Our people sleep on top of the mountain, so they can’t access health services down here. They end up pushing babies on the way but we only give postnatal care,” he says.