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Jamaima, orthoprosthetist: a profession of service to others


Rehabilitation | Uganda | PUBLISHED ON April 3rd 2024
A young black woman with curly hair is in a brace shop. She holds a black plastic brace in each hand and smiles at the camera.

Jamaima Naluggya in the orthopaedic workshop based in Arua regional hospital. | © Crolle Agency / HI

Jamaima Naluggya, orthoprosthetist, is heading a project to develop the 3D printing of prostheses and orthoses in refugee camps in Uganda. This is the story of her commitment to helping others.

In Uganda, obtaining orthoses and prostheses can be very complicated, particularly for people living in rural areas or in refugee camps. Jamaima Naluggya is working to improve access to these essential care services.

Health: a sector of service to others

Jamaima Naluggya always knew she wanted to work in a profession that would enable her to help others. Brought up in a family of health professionals, she was familiar with the care professions and, when it came to choosing her studies, she opted to train as an orthoprosthetist.

Jamaima worked in rehabilitation for 7 years before joining HI in 2022 as head of a project to develop 3D–printed orthoses and prostheses for people living in refugee camps in the West Nile region of north-west Uganda.

"My job requires a wide range of skills: dexterity, great physical stamina, good communication skills... and, above all, a lot of patience!"

Daily challenges

Jamaima checking the measurements of Elli Batali Freza’s prosthesis. © Crolle Agency / HIIn Uganda, people wanting access health services sometimes have to travel long distances. This is particularly the case for people in need of rehabilitation care, as centres are few and far between and often poorly equipped. These distance and time constraints are compounded by financial difficulties for people who often have very limited resources. 

Some of the refugee families Jamaima works with have difficulty obtaining basic essentials such as food and medicines. In this context, rehabilitation treatment takes longer and progress is very slow.

"One day, a man to whom I had given an orthosis thanked me for bringing these services to his home. He explained that now he could walk again, he would be able to work and provide for his family. That made an impression on me; I realised that because of the lack of services, he had thought he would never be able to work again."

Working for the future

Jamaima Naluggya and her physical therapist colleagues, Paul Lokiru and Justus Muhwezi. © Crolle Agency / HIA typical day for Jamaima has its share of administrative tasks, but also a great deal hands-on work: assessing people and their needs, taking measurements, designing and printing devices. Once the orthoses or prostheses have been printed, Jamaima also spends time fitting them, making adjustments and following up on her patients – all while travelling many kilometres to sometimes distant refugee camps.

Jamaima is delighted every time she can bring rehabilitation services to communities. She hopes that technological advances will become more the norm and that well-equipped rehabilitation centres will open in rural areas to make these vital services more accessible. It is this hope that sustains her, along with the daily victories:

"Seeing the people we support back on their feet, able to carry out their daily activities independently, lead fulfilling lives and take part in the life of their community just like everyone else - that's what motivates me!"

Using 3D technology, the 3D PETRA project aims to foster innovation and improve the accessibility of orthopaedic devices for people with disabilities living in refugee camps and among host communities in the West Nile region of Uganda. The project is being implemented in partnership with CorSu and the Arua Regional Referral Hospital, and funded by HI, the Symphasis Foundation and Luxembourg.

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