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The Positive Effect of Gorilla Tourism
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The Positive Effect of Gorilla Tourism
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Gorilla Tourism

Dr. Paul Williams from the Bwindi Community Health Center highlights the ways in which revenue from gorilla tourism has benefited the health of the local community.

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Learn more about the Bwindi Community Health Centre.

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Segment 1

DR. PAUL WILLIAMS [Bwindi Community Health Center]
My name is Dr. Paul Williams and I work as a doctor here at Bwindi Community Health Center. Bwindi Community Health Center is in the village of Buhoma, which is about a mile from the northern entrance to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
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DR. PAUL WILLIAMS
It's about a mile from the main place where tourists come to trek the habituated gorilla groups. Tourism has undoubtedly benefited this area in many ways. Now, one of the things that it's done is it's made this area richer and there is a direct connection between economic wealth and health. Richer people, up to a point, are healthier people, and many of the diseases that we encounter in this area are diseases of poverty.
DR. PAUL WILLIAMS
This health center costs about US$300,000, so about GBP£150,000, to run every year. So, the health center running costs are got from two different sources. One is by charging user fees and, for the sustainability, the long-term sustainability of an organization like this, it's really important that the community are contributing something towards the cost of their healthcare. But we only actually manage to get about 20 percent of our income from user fees. Now, if we ran the whole health center on that, then the quality of healthcare that we delivered would be very low, but it would be sustainable. So we actually make up the other 80 percent by donations from the gorilla tourism in this area. And part of my strategy as a fundraiser here is to try and use the goodwill of the people that come in order to visit, tourists, in order to try and help to fund the health center. It enables us to have doctors, it enables us to make sure that we have very high quality, highly trained staff here.
DR. PAUL WILLIAMS
In the last year, through spraying inside of all of the houses and by helping people to access mosquito nets at prices that they can afford, we've managed to almost eliminate malaria as a big problem within this area. You can't be complacent about a disease like malaria, but malaria has become a rare disease, just within the last year, rather than a common disease. So I'm able to tell tourists these positive stories. I'm able to, if people want, to show them around the health center, to expose them to some of the work that we're doing. And I've been very fortunate in that people have been good-natured and people have been kind enough to give either one-off donations or, my strategy is to try and get people tied into the health center and giving longer-term donations.
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