A toast to Ugandans with a mission, purpose

Last Wednesday was No-uniform day at Taibah International School.

S4 student Daniel Jackson Tashobya sought and was granted permission to host the day to fundraise for the treatment of a school guard who was recently involved in a boda boda accident. Each student had to pay Shs 2,000 for the privilege of not wearing uniform. Shs 798,000 was raised.

It is heart-warming to see youngsters like Tashobya come up with such initiatives. One of the school’s aims is to ensure students gain values of respect, honesty and a code of kindness plus concern for their own communities.

Speaking of communities, last week,I visited Dr Nandawula Kanyerezi Mutema at The Clinic at Bugolobi Village mall. She has returned to serve in Uganda having worked at a Cincinnati city public clinic in USA for 18 years!

Rather than work for her father at Kampala hospital, Dr Nandawula set up her posh clinic because she wanted to be in control of standards and to ensure her way of practice. She is big on preventive measures and advocates that everyone should undergo a medical ‘exam’ every year! At her facility, electricity for lights – and they have sensors, which turn off lights in unoccupied rooms – is harvested using solar power technology. They have advanced imaging equipment and use tele-radiology to quickly link up with a vast network of consultants in India.

Dr Nandawula faces the usual human resource challenges, and feels the frustrations experienced by many patients who have had to move from clinic to clinic looking for a right diagnosis or others who undergo critical operations without a second opinion.

Total investment so far is under $500,000. Consultation fees range from Shs 80,000 to Shs 100,000, but repeat patients get a discount. She has not been assisted in any way by government, URA or other agency!

Le Memorial hospital on Kigo road is larger and ‘posher’ than The Clinic. Besides general practice, Le Memorial has laboratory services and offers imaging facilities, with more to come. The wards and private rooms are spacious; it can admit up to 60 patients. You may have to be reminded that this is a medical centre and not a comfy hotel with great views of Lake Victoria!

Total investment so far is $7m! After running several businesses successfully, Lydia Oyile decided to set up a hospital. When I challenge her that, seeing the hospital’s location plus the immense investment, it is not possible to get a return in her lifetime, Oyile laughs. She believes it is time to give back; she started out as a nursing officer and is now returning to her roots – our village – offering a service where it is needed most!

Government assistance? Zero! She has begged for tax relief but nothing yet! Dr Chris Baryomunsi, now minister for health, and Dr Medard Bitekyerezo, chairperson of the parliamentary committee on health, promised me that they would visit soon. Previously I was able to put her in touch with Dr Ruhakana Rugunda when he was still health minister. Of course we are proud of her; but that is not enough to ensure the hospital succeeds!

Then there is Doctors Clinic and Doctors Hospital on Entebbe road in Seguku. Dr Yossamu Nsubuga started Doctors Clinic because Nile bank had denied him, then in a rural missionary hospital, a loan. Incensed, he opened what is now an affordable, 15-bed clinic where he could pay doctors more and initial investment was one million that was mostly borrowed and given to him by family.

It seems that the banks eventually believed in his ability because he has been able to develop using small loans whenever he needed to buy equipment.

Obviously he needs help. He argues that there should be a facility where private clinics or hospitals can send staff for training. That would improve health care.

I intend to interview the owners of Case Clinic and Hospital, SAS Clinic and Hospital and IHK clinics and hospital soon. Like the three above, all are visionary leaders and have contributed towards Uganda’s health. These medical facilities offer Taibah students work placements; so, I know that our Tashobya and others can develop leadership skills too!


The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers.


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