Occupational Therapy was introduced to Uganda in the 1970’s when
Ugandan OT’s who had trained abroad (mainly in the UK) started OT
departments in Mulago and Butabika Hospitals.
However in 1994 the School of Occupational Therapy at Mulago Hospital was opened and Uganda started to train its own OT’s. more than 100 Ugandan OT’s have now graduated from the School and about 50 of these have set up services within the country.
Ugandan OTs are equipped with knowledge and competencies to handle a wide range of conditions. Being a new profession, Occupational Therapists in Uganda have not reached a level of specializing in particular areas of practice as may be the case in the rest of the world. It thus follows that all cases which need OT intervention are seen under the same roof.
Its also important to note that OT in Uganda does not involve high technology. The use of low cost/locally available materials and equipment is highly emphasized to both students and practicing Occupational Therapists.
Areas of Practice Occupational Therapists work with government hospitals, Non government organization (NGOs) including Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Programmes and special schools among others.
There are three major categories of government hospitals
National Referral hospitals
There are two national referral hospitals located in Kampala, the capital city. They offer specialized health services. Butabika is a Psychiatric hospital and Mulago is a general hospital. These have fully functional OT departments. Kampala being the biggest city in the country has more than the basic necessities one may need.
Regional Referral Hospitals.
There are ten regional referral hospitals across the country. These are located in the major towns of Uganda. They provide both Psychiatric and general health services. National and Regional Referral hospitals also double as teaching hospitals with different health institutions attached to them (hospitals). They thus provide good learning environment for students.
These are relatively small hospitals found in each of forty two districts of Uganda. A number of districts are employing OTs in their hospitals. These have been very helpful in extending Occupational Therapy to the rural communities. The services in district hospitals are similar to those in regional referral hospitals except that they (district hospitals) lack specialists and thus act as referral sources for the referral hospitals.
Private hospitals in Uganda are mainly founded/run by Church organizations ie Anglican and Catholic. A few of these hospitals have employed OTs. Management of private hospitals is quite different and sometimes their services are better than government hospitals though at a fee.