By Halson Kagure
Across the country especially in western Uganda, the mood remains jovial as masses continue to celebrate the return of Dr Celestine Barigye, Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Director.
On Friday at exactly 10:30 am, in the company of his wife, Dr Barigye, smartly clad in his clinical coat resurfaced leaving his staff and other administrators marvelled.
He had spent a couple of months on the sidelines with his last public appearance being the National Women’s Day celebrations presided over by the president on the 8th of March in Sanga subcounty Kiruhura district.
His sudden departure got tongues wagging but is finally back is back in full swing to share his story.
“It was after that day that my wife started noticing changes in my daily life routine. I had challenges with waking up in the morning as I felt a bit tired”, he narrates.
Narrating his health journey during a press conference held in the hospital boardroom, he said once he reached home in Ishaka, most things about his health changed.
His wife urged his driver to keep monitoring his condition before he sought medical attention at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital.
Dr Barigye was first attended to by Dr John Tebajanga prior to seeking options from his superiors; Dr Rose Muhindo, a physician and Prof David Kitya, the head of the Neurosurgery Unit.
The trio recommended a Computed Tomography (CT) scan investigation which showed a swelling in the brain that needed urgent attention.
He was immediately referred to Mulago National Referral Hospital where a team of neurosurgeons successfully removed the swelling.
When he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit for post-operative treatment, they made multiple tests on the swelling equivalent to an ‘apple’ but wasn’t cancerous.
Medical experts concluded his condition can be successfully handled by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
On 23rd April 2023, he was flown to Medicana International Ankara Hospital in Turkey where he has been successfully managed.
Dr Barigye acknowledged the support of his family especially the wife; Mrs. Ruth Barigye who has been by his side from the time of admission up to discharge.
The Government of Uganda through the State House, and Health Ministry under the stewardship of Hon. Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng and Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine also contributed towards his treatment.
Further, he recognizes Mr. Hassan Basajjabalaba helping hand who after learning of his condition linked them to the Ugandan envoy to Turkey H.E Mrs. Nasura Tiperu who welcomed them and proceeded to the hospital without impediments.
Malicious death reports
In April, during the Easter season, while still undergoing medical treatment at Mulago Hospital, malicious news announcing his death went viral. The false death news was allegedly fueled by Crooze Fm, a local radio station in Mbarara and was also shared across the divide.
The soft-speaking Dr Barigye condemned the abuse of veracity, a vital code of ethics for journalists. He in fact forgave the Crooze Radio Management.
Ministry of Health speaks
Early last week, Dr Henry Mwebesa, Director General of Health Services at the Health Ministry applauded Mbarara Regional Referral Medic for conducting a thorough diagnosis on Dr Barigye.
“As the Ministry of Health, we thank God for the life of our Director, I can’t go back without talking about him. I also appreciate the good work done by the doctors here because by the time he was referred to Mulago; specialists knew what they were going to do”, he said while meeting the administration.
Dr Mwebesa further revealed that Dr Barigye’s sickness was of concern, adding that the Health Ministry went to the stream to save his life.
“Dr Barigye is a transformational and hardworking leader that’s why he was not reshuffled. I have not seen him but I have heard that he is back home and that’s good news for us. We thank the Hospital, State House, friends and relatives who supported him.” he adds.
The return of Dr. Celestine Barigye took many including his hospital staff and some administrators by surprise. However, in the shortest time, his pictures took the internet by storm.
Congratulatory messages are as of today still flooding the hospital’s official social media channels and WhatsApp groups.
Sampled WhatsApp Messages
“God is great. Our brother and friend, Dr Barigye Celestine is back and strong” Dr Deus Twesigye, Senior Consultant General Surgeon.
Dickson Mugume, MRRH Clinician posted: “Dr Barigye Celestine back in office and working. Thank you everyone that prayed for this”.
Juliet Ankunda, Principal Nursing Officer: “Our Director is here, God is great and faithful”.
Dickens Owamaani, M&E Officer, “Welcome back our dear Director. We thank God for your protection”.
Fr Didas Tumwine, Hospital Chaplain “The God we adore is a faithful one and a God of wonders. He cares for His faithful servants like our dear Dr. Celestine Barigye. In Joshua 1:9, God tells Joshua ” It’s I who command you, be strong and vigilant. Do not be afraid because Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go. Long live our beloved director”
Twitter & Facebook messages
Dr Medard Bityekyerezo @bitekyerezomed1: “May Glory be returned to God. Welcome back home Comrade Dr Celestine”.
Annita @anitarita: Well be back Dr Barigye. U are loved.
Dr Morning Star @DrObAllan: All light for all to see their future.
Baguma John Henry @jbaguma: Thanks for all the efforts. He is a mentor to many.
Goodluck Rukatwa Mugabo @GoodluckRukatwa: Praise be to God.
Lauded by many as a result-centred man whose actions are spoken by tangible infrastructure he alongside the administration championed at a 93-year-old institution now eyed as a centre of excellence offering highly specialized safe patient care services, Dr Barigye has been at the helm of many successes at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital for close to ten years.
About the Author:
Halson Kagure is the Public Relations Officer at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, a government hospital and teaching affiliate of Mbarara University of Science and Technology and other Medical Institutions in Uganda.