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His eyelids were engorged to the point that he could barely open them, but by that time it was likely a blessing to be blinded from the horrors that had beset his hospital. The battle he had fought against Ebola, in his own body and those of his people, was ended for him. He was buried in a polyurethane sack.1 Dr. Matthew was the head doctor of St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu Town, Northern Uganda – the largest hospital in the region – and he was regarded as a savior of his people. Boys in town would dare each other to jump from high places, saying “if we break a leg, Dr. Matthew will fix it.”2 Unfortunately, the sickness in the destitute north ran deeper than even Dr. Matthew could have healed. The sickness in Uganda ran down off the plains, into the buildings of the government, and from there – across the savannah, through the jungles and over the wide, blue Atlantic – into American pockets. The sickness in northern Uganda - be it the AIDS, tuberculosis, cholera, or at its most brutal, the Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak - is symptomatic of far reaching government oppression and corruption, and American imperialism. At the time the Gulu town Ebola outbreak began, the region had been terrorized by a rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army for fifteen years, and by Museveni and Idi Amin before that, as long as anyone could remember. For the Acholi tribes-people, the most obvious pains were those closest to home. The countless incidents of violence and oppression against them brought down a heavy weight to bear: a creeping infection which came to stifle the northerners into silence. The pestilence and hunger which the Acholi had to struggle against
Blaine Harden, “Dr. Matthew’s Passion”, New York Times Magazine, Feb. 18, 2001 (http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20010218mag-ebola.html)
New York Times Magazine, Feb. 18, 2001
2006 (http://news.R. to relief shelters set up in gymnasiums. “Ugandan Rebel Leader Breaks Silence”.A.co. a guerilla terrorist who claims to have the word of god on his side. It is this violence that ultimately brought the world’s most deadly virus out of the forest.000 refugees a night. their own government waged a quiet campaign of terror against them. the conditions of which left them vulnerable and lacking the means to treat themselves. however. MSNBC Dateline. and forced children to murder their maimed parents so that they would fight for the L. “In War Torn Uganda. June 28.bbc. Sept 26.R. hacked people to death with machetes. “Meeting Joseph Kony” 4 Sam Farmar. By tens of thousands.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/5124762. without any ties to their old homes. BBC Two Newsnight.stm) 5 Keith Morrison and Tim Sandler. 2006 (http://www. Where these refugees sought sanctuary. Among the worst contributing factors which ultimately resulted in the outbreak was the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army.3 While he claims his intent is to fight for the freedom of his fellow Acholi people in the north. his will in practice has entailed the abduction of their children and brutal murder of any who won’t join him. villagers often fled their towns in the evening. seeking out safety from the attacks. The grounds of Pabbo contained some 6. leaving the Acholi people in a terrifying accretion of gore. was and still is led by Joseph Kony.000 tiny mud huts which were home to 63. He has used warped scripture and a core army of two hundred men supplied with funds and weaponry by the Sudanese government to execute a campaign as mysterious in its motivation as it has been brutal in its practice. cut off ears and lips. and to military relief camps. Kids Only Emerge at Night”.msn. and food and water supplies were stringently 3 Journeyman Pictures.A.com/id/9006024/) .R. the smell of fear was not quite as prevalent as that of feces and disease. For years the L.came from years of violence and oppression.5 In military camps like Pabbo.A. frequently invaded villages at night. The L.msnbc. these ‘night commuters’ would head to the streets of larger cities.4 In response to this constant horror.
2006 (http://news. Whether gross neglect or murderous intent was behind the Acholi’s treatment at Pabbo.uk/2/hi/africa/3514473.bbc. It may seem incredible that the ill equipped and under-aged forces of a guerilla army would be able to stage routine abductions from a National Resistance Army camp. tuberculosis. many of whom were infected with cholera. Aug. the ghosts of refugees’ murdered families. Tens of thousands were infected with scores of diseases their bodies had no way of combating. so Pabbo was always guarded in part by the ghosts: the ghosts of ill intentions. supposedly guarded by the National Resistance Army. children learned quickly to seek shelter toward the center of the camp. people in outer huts were frequently dragged off into the night and hacked to pieces or kidnapped. http://www. but the fact that the people never actually existed hasn’t stopped them from being paid.int/disasters/repo/15156.who. In these camps. malaria. 24.stm) . 6 World Health Organization Disaster Report.” Internal inquiries have shown that many enlisted people in the National Resistance Army were in fact fabricated persons.limited. Only a handful of flesh and blood soldiers were there patrolling the camp at any given time. 2004) 7 Peter Greste.co. Most of the soldiers with legs to walk on and hands to carry guns are stationed in the relatively wealthy southern region of Uganda. One well was offered for every 5.pdf (Oct. Update on Cholera Outbreak in Pabbo IDP Camp.6 Most of the refugees only ate once a day. and lacked sufficient nourishment to fight off even a cold. the end result was the same. 29. right under the noses of the national army.7 Army payrolls are full of slips of paper with no bodies attached to them. HIV or a host of other diseases. Gulu District. but the feat seems a lot less impressive when one considers that the camp was run in part by what have been dubbed “Ghost Soldiers.000 people. BBC News. Even in the army camp. the ghosts of their past. “Q&A. Uganda’s Northern War”.
his army ravaged the north.’s neglect at Pabbo is another benchmark of ill will against the northerners by their autocrat. Uganda has enjoyed a burgeoning export market. “The Peace Process in Northern Uganda. In the years following Museveni’s 1986 coup. bringing threats of civil war. It is this neglect and suppression which nurses the creeping disease of malnutrition and infection that afflicts the Acholi. burning Gulu to the ground. murdering suspects in the streets. Uganda Civil War. began trickling back across the border. tearing babies from their mothers’ breasts and hurling them against trees. 2002” (http://www. the only way to consider his innocence is if he was bound by material inability.A.R. The bad blood between the Acholi and the army runs deep. unfair. In a statement.R.c-r. guards that wandered around the camp. Of those they didn’t kill.R. rode through the north. That is certainly not the case. 2008) .8 The atrocities of that time have been lost to [first world] history.A. they accused Museveni of being totally indifferent to the plight of the Acholi people.globalsecurity.htm (accessed Nov 30.A. In a responsive statement.While refugees at Pabbo lived in fear of abduction. 1986-1990. Since Museveni’s coup. The defeated Ugandan National Liberation Army.”9 If one supposes that the accusations against Museveni are. they had no good will for the occasional clutch of N. but not to the memories of those who survived it. http://www. some 100. in fact. In response to these threats.org/military/world/war/uganda.000 were left homeless.org/ourwork/accord/northern-uganda/peace-process-1986-90. While the poor in 8 Caroline Lamwaka.” Citing the herding of people into camps [such as Pabbo] without anything resembling adequate care or protection. the government called the accusations “completely unfair. They broke into homes and led a campaign of terror. The nonprofit organization Christian Aid has accused the Ugandan government of shirking their responsibility to protect their northern citizens. which had initially fled into Sudan.php) 9 Global Security Military Conflict Database. Accord. the group claimed that Museveni’s lack of action in protecting or aiding them is “borne out of lack of will. The N. Museveni’s N.
citing “Strategic objectives [to] address economic growth. https://www.html. tea and cotton to trade on the global market. Uganda’s economy. the northern camps still suffer high rates of malnourishment.10 USAID has helped to fund these efforts.usaid.14 The north has felt this shortage acutely. While money changes hands in the south. Museveni burned crops and began growing coffee. people instead sought safety after dark on the streets of Gulu town.gov/policy/budget/cbj2006/afr/ug.12 To offset the food shortages incited by American investment.html Ibid 11 12 The CIA World Factbook. The night commuters piled in greater and greater 10 USAID Budget Summary. has also had some success. sacrificing Uganda’s sustainability in order to obtain the cheapest imports they can to cement their position of global superiority. if not their people. In the 1990’s the number of people living on less than one dollar a day rose from 34% to 38%. accessed Dec 1. The cost of constant struggle against the rebels and economic strife has had harsh results.cia.” among other ways. the rate of impoverishment in Uganda has experienced an increase in direct correlation to the rate of economic growth.2% by way of their inedible crops. This is largely because the Ugandan government has completely dropped the ball: food donated by foreign aid makes up 100% of the Acholi diet in camps. Uganda. Uganda has enjoyed an annual growth rate of 7. 2008 13 USAID Budget Summary The CIA World Factbook 14 .northern Uganda starved. to “revitalize Ugandan exports” and encourage “trade and investment. the northerners have less and less to live on.”11 While the Unites States satisfies the Bretton Woods agenda. http://www.13 Astonishingly. During the United States’ investment period in the 90s. international aid organizations have donated food for the Acholi refugees. Uganda. While the efforts are helpful.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ug. As hardships mounted at Pabbo.
The thick jungle bordering on Gulu is one of the lushest in Africa.co.000. accessed12 Nov. 2 Jan. numbering up to 9. beds to treat them on and food for them to eat. more and more violence and less and less space for refugees to sleep. Injured children and tuberculosis patients took up hospital beds for long periods in ever increasing numbers and filled more and more beds every year in an ever increasing tide. Mary’s Hospital Lacor Annual Summary. 2008 . though the hospital staff did everything they could to stop it. and were missing fingers. people began sleeping on the hospital grounds. more and more people came to sleep there. something had to give.15 Soon the influx of refugees was taking its toll. 1999. with their various acquired diseases. In order to prevent this and to alleviate the humanitarian atrocity he and his staff erected shanties within the hospital grounds. “The Death of Dr. By October of 2000. eerie reminder to those displaced by the terror of the L.3604. The diseases that they had contracted at Pabbo still ran rampant. Mary’s Hospital Lacor knew that an influx of refugees.416866.00. http://www. 2001 (http://www.html) 16 St.A.numbers into schools.R. The Guardian.uk/g2/story/0.shtml. Fondazione Piero e Lucille Corti. the refugees who didn’t need immediate care bedded down next to one another in the yard . a shadow fell over the hospital. As word spread. the hospital was operating at 128% capacity. Drawn by the safety of the hospital fence and allotted higher rations and a great deal better health care. until they spilled out onto the hospital floors.and as the sun swung toward the horizon. The night sounds of the jungle echoed across the hospital grounds serving as a constant. warehouses and garages. would instigate an epidemic on the streets of Gulu. and houses the hideout 15 James Astill. Many of them had been injured by the L. The head doctor at St.lhospital. ears or limbs and required surgery and care. Matthew Lukwiya took notice.guardian. Matthew”.org/rapporti_annuali/eng_moreinfo_1999. and soon Dr. As the generator whirred into activity each evening and the electric lights illumed nurses stepping over patients.16 With more and more sick and injured refugees.A. from room to room.R.
Journal of Virology.. Accessed Dec. Siddhartha Mahanty.naturalsciences. 2008 (http://jvi. 28 Aug.21 In Gulu town. et al.18 The mountain gorillas have had numerous documented outbreaks of the virus. the gorillas have become increasingly bold. 28 Aug. and are known to wander into nearby settlements. Manisha. the Ugandan government sponsors guided tours into the jungle to observe the primates – and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has become a hot tourist destination.17 In an effort to raise more funds. Facts on Ebola Virus: Human and Animal Outbreaks (http://www. 2007 Ibid 20 21 Gupta.org/cgi/reprint/78/2/958) . it was also the home of another terror.aspx) 18 A CMS Agreement for the Conservation of Gorillas and Their Habitats. accessed 12 Nov. The gorillas will occasionally menace children and pilfer food. in 2000. While officially the source of the Ebola virus is unknown. especially in instances of sustained contact to a large population. and entirely unknown to the Gulu people.A. protected jungle. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is three hundred and thirty one square kilometers of dense. 2007. Patricia Greer. Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi National Park (http://www. transmission from mountain gorillas seems highly likely. which are a heavily studied.of Joseph Kony and base of the Lord’s Resistance Army. In addition to being home of the L. Due to constant contact with tourists and biologists.R. it is the home of almost all of the world’s mountain gorillas.com/Uganda-Wildlife-Gorillas. but for what they take from the villages they also give – in disease.gorillatrackinguganda. all African outbreaks of the disease have bordered on the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. and likely many more away from the eyes of tourists and biologists. the gorillas had free access to 17 The Mountain Gorilla. even more deadly.be/science/projects/gorilla/aboutgorilla/ebola) 19 Gorilla Agreement.asm. “Persistent Infection With Ebola Virus under Conditions of Partial Immunity”. endangered species. 2008.19 The virus is presumed to be zoonosic – transmitted to human populations from other animals – and with a genetic makeup 97 to 98% identical to that of humans20.
T.000 sick. and many left for the streets of 22 Oyok. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. As word of the virus carried about the hospital grounds.htm) 23 New York Times Magazine. On October 8. One by one they fell ill and died within days.22 Dr. spent a night under the fluorescent glow of Dr. “Outbreak of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever .the sparse foodstuffs of 9. A preliminary assessment conducted by MoH found additional cases in Gulu District and in Gulu Hospital. Feb. increasingly so as the virus wears on. he and one of the resident nuns.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5005a1. Sister Maria. an outbreak of an unusual febrile illness with occasional hemorrhage and significant mortality was reported to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Kampala by the superintendent of St. Dtc&E. Contact with infected bodily fluids frequently leads to infection. 12 Nov. Matthew’s study poring over CDC disease factsheets. Dr. 2001 . and the District Director of Health Services in the Gulu District. By the end of the night they were almost certain that the infection was Ebola virus. C Odonga. and it is incredibly infectious – with mortality rates as high as 80%. He sent samples off to the ministry of health for further examination. Mary's Hospital in Lacor. but all were inconclusive. the regional referral hospital. Infected cadavers are the most infectious. 2008 (http://www.cdc. Matthew performed test after test to determine the cause of infection. et al.. this sort of virus constituted a worst case scenario for anyone hoping to avoid an epidemic.Uganda. cramped refugees a night. After a week. the refugees staying there became nervous. In a tribe where the dead are washed ritually before burial. Matthew first noticed it when his nurses began dying. All it took was one lucky mutation. 2000. and contact with them should be avoided at all costs. vomiting blood or bleeding intensely from the mouth and nose. and the virus would be set loose on a tremendous new population.23 The next day word came in from the CDC confirming their guess. Ebola had and still has no known cure or treatment. 18. Mbchb. August 2000 January 2001”. and Ebola had thousands of opportunities to infect starved people with weakened immune systems.
People entering and exiting containment zones were hosed down with JIK. their managers were impressed to see that their guidelines were already being followed to the tee. Matthew himself would succumb to the virus. Dr. With abysmal local conditions. Dr. the virus had progressed to its final . limited funding and abilities on the part of the hospital staff. Matthew heard of this he quickly released another PSA forbidding people to drink the product.Gulu town or the huts of Pabbo. and when official outbreak containment crews began appearing on the scene. face masks were a must. Many layers of latex gloves were worn. When Dr. When a rumor began to spread that the virus was contained in the stomach. helping to spread the virus abroad. an inexpensive and concentrated bleach which is widely available in Africa. Matthew and his staff had a containment nightmare on their hands. fear of the virus was spreading fast. The exodus brought with it some newly infected people. Having studied the CDC manuals on the disease. Outside of the hospital walls. where the most stringent containment guidelines were put into place. people poisoned themselves by drinking JIK in an attempt to ‘cure’ the virus. He is presumed to have contracted it one night in November when he was called to the hospital to help control his infected nurse and friend Simon Ajok. Despite his stringent precautions. however. death at the hands of terrorists and disease already at a peak and traditional burial rituals helping to spread the disease. He had released PSAs forbidding the practice of ritually bathing corpses and had devoted a wing of his hospital to the virus. Lukwiya knew virtually everything there was to know about containing the Ebola virus. Dr. Matthew had even had a wooden boot-jack constructed for removing the shoes of the infected. and rumors abounded. In Ajok. The threat of brutal death likely seemed more horrifying coming from within one’s own body than from without.
The incident provides new evidence to help prove the origin of the virus. The Gulu town Ebola outbreak could never have occurred if the government hadn’t responded to the brutality facing the northern people with deep neglect. 18. however. spraying blood into the air. or perhaps it was because his good friend was dying – whatever the reason though.” Stanley was panicked and called the director. “Blood was pouring from his mouth and nose like tap water” nurse Babu Washington Stanley remembers. Matthew was the last to die of the virus. If the National Resistance Army had been called into action. and as he retched. While comforting his dying friend. In the following days he deteriorated rapidly. trying to escape the ward. If funds had gone toward providing adequate care for refugees in camps instead of being embezzled from the paychecks of ghost soldiers. guarding the townships of the north against guerrilla attacks. as Dr. he tore himself from his bed and staggered into the hall.stage. Feb. conditions in Gulu would never have reached that critical mass which drew out the virus. Matthew is from New York Times Magazine. we miss out on the most important lessons of the incident. Lukwiya and the containment teams. If USAID had been more interested in alleviating violence and starvation than in 24 All biographical information concerning Dr. Perhaps it was due to being woken from the first sleep he had gotten in days.24 There are many lessons to be learned from the Gulu town Ebola outbreak. Matthew Lukwiya rushed from his home he forgot to put on a protective mask. and at 1:20 in the morning on December fifth. If the lessons we learn are primarily epidemiological. residents would never have had to flee their homes into conditions of disease and squalor. 2001 . Matthew show the methods of infection and the importance of working culturally and spreading awareness in containing outbreaks. the fine spray of blood in the air rushed into Lukwiya’s lungs. and the heroic efforts of Dr. 2000 the virus killed him. By the blessings of luck and the hard work of Dr. “He was fighting tooth and nail.
floating the American economy on inexpensive foreign crops. As long as America continues to condone and fund the genocidal action and inaction of a military dictator. Uganda will never be free from the epidemics of malnourishment. Museveni won re-election with 63% of the vote. violence and disease that led to the Gulu town Ebola outbreak. The significance of the situation goes beyond that. There are some things we can’t fight. After Besigye filed with the courts for a recount. and the heroic efforts of people like Dr. two of the five judges noted rampant illegalities in the election proceedings involving incorrect vote tallies and problems with the ballot boxes in certain regions. Museveni drove him into hiding. when the hero is not the last to die – and god help us on that day. Unless we act to change first world policies that force the world’s demons out into the open. there will come a day when the outbreak is not stopped. The human race has limitations. threatening to kill him and accusing him of being a traitor to the government. Besigye was arrested for treason. Museveni would not have had motivation attempt negligent genocide against the Acholi people. Despite his accusations and the threatening presence of special police at the court hearing. Despite the seemingly overwhelming popularity of his opponent. Matthew will not always be enough to save us. President Yoweri Museveni’s term ended – on the guidelines set in Uganda’s new democratic constitution – and he ran for re-election. . however. Kizza Besigye. In 2001.