The District Health Officer for Kiboga District Dr. Michael Musiitwa Mugwanya has succumbed to Covid-19, the Daily Express confirms. Musiitwa was confirmed dead on Wednesday at Mulago National Referral Hospital where he has been receiving treatment since testing positive for the deadly virus.
Announcing his death, a colleague Sabrina Kitaka noted that Musiitwa’s death was heartbreaking.
“A few years ago when we raised funds for his kidney transplant it was really nice to see him up and about again. Our heartfelt condolences. He was hard working and compassionate. His work placed him in the front line and therefore was at risk of the dreadful Covid-19 disease. We pray for his immediate family and colleagues.”
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Roy William Mayega who Dr. Musiitwa immediately succeeded at Bukomero Health Center IV in Kiboga District described the deceased as a committed and dedicated health worker.
“I worked in Kiboga District as a Medical Officer from 1999 to 2005. When I left, he took over. At the time, the district was extremely rural. This crop of doctors was the most dedicated group you can ever imagine. They came into the wilderness that was Kiboga, right from Medical School, with their very young families.
“They were the pioneers of the Health Sub-district system. They worked in deeply rural health facilities, no mobile phone network, extremely rough roads, extremely under-staffed. You could only send an SMS to a loved one at a specific point, facing a specific direction, phone-raised, perched on top of an anthill in the bushes overlying Bukomero Health Center, and it had to be at 8 pm,” Mayega said.
He noted that Musiitwa and his team worked with utmost dedication, with the conviction that a health system had to be built from the grass-roots.
“They worked with budgets of sh250,000 as a salary for a Health center II, sh750,000 for a Health Center III, sh4,000,000 for a Health Center IV per quarter from the Primary Health Care (PHC) Conditional Grant at a time when cost-sharing was abolished. They built the Health Center Level IVs (Bukomero and Ntwetwe) from the scratch.
“We did the first surgeries to ever be done at Bukomero HCIV with him and the visiting surgeon Dr. Jose Jombwe in a Surgical Camp organized by the Association of Surgeons of Uganda.
The theatre came to life and has not relented since. With funding from Irish Aid (thanks to the excellent support of the fearless Connie Nekessa-Ouma and her team), we worked with Dr. Musiitwa, Dr. JB Serebe and the late Dr. Mugenyi Kizito to lead the location planning and construction of at least 8 new health centers in the most rural areas of Kiboga, building on the strong work of our predecessors, Dr. Moses Mutebi Nganda, Dr. Emmanuel Batiibwe and Dr. HDW Megere,” Dr Mayega stated.
“With Dr. Musiitwa, we partnered with World Vision to increase immunization outreaches from the 4 that were traditionally supported by PHC to 12 per month. A few months after the Surgical Camp, I handed over to Dr. Musiitwa. When several of us left to work in Kampala and beyond, this crop of doctors stayed on, fully dedicated to health care in the rural areas,” Mayega added.
He noted that Dr. Musiitwa was later to grow in the system and become the Medical Superintendent of Kiboga General Hospital, and later the District Health Officer.
“He survived a Kidney transplant undertaken over 10 years ago – and went back to Kiboga. He later became my student, at the Public Health training program at Makerere, and on completion, went back to Kiboga. One time, I told him that there comes a time when one has to grow and move, but he was not the type to listen to that – he stayed on in Kiboga – he said the people there needed him. Extremely focused on his work and always on the ground.”
Dr, Mayega noted that it was unfortunate that Dr. Musiitwa had passed away due to complications of COVID-19.
“May the Lord touch his family in this time of utmost grief; may the Lord write him in his book of life, as well as all the front-line health-care workers who have soldiered on in this very fragile health care system, some losing their lives. And may the Lord deliver us from this deadly pestilence. People like Dr. Musiitwa are the giants of our epoch, the unsung heroes of the overburdened health care system,” he added.
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