McGill University researcher Colin Chapman is hoping to expand a successful mobile clinic in Uganda to all 12 of its national parks.

Chapman started the Kibale Health and Conservation Centre in 2008, which had been working well except for one thing.

"People started complaining when we met them that our clinic that we built was too far to get to," Chapman said.

So he secured a Grand Canada Challenge grant in 2012 to bring over an ambulance and set it up as a mobile clinic in Kibale National Park.

The mobile clinic responds to remote villagers' need for basic health care, family planning, HIV/AIDS treatment and counselling and vaccinations. 

Preserving national parks

The Kibale Health and Conservation Centre also promotes a message of preserving the national parks.

Patrick Omeja manages operations and McGill University students who come to work at the clinic.

He said local residents sometimes damage the national parks in order to make quick money.

"Somebody may be tempted like there are all these animals roaming around, 'Why don't I kill one, sell the meat, get some money so I can go to the hospital,'" Omeja said.

Now Chapman wants 11 more mobile clinics — one for each of Uganda's national parks. He applied for another Grand Canada Challenge grant to help make that happen, but will only know the result of his application early next year.

"The idea is that park is bringing nice things that community has asked for, to them in return. The idea is you don't do bad things to people who do nice things for you. We're making that as an assumption and we're testing whether or not that assumption actually works," Chapman said.

He hopes to be able to expand the breadth of services offered by the clinics to include optometry and dentistry.