New board inaugurated at Mbarara Hospital

Dr Celestine Barigye, Hospital Director Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital taking an oath of service and secrecy as the secretary to the board before the State Minister of State for General Duties last week

Mbarara, (UG):- The Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Management Board led by Prof Iraka Owange has been dissolved after its expiration having served for two terms with three years each term.

The handover ceremony of the outgoing board took place last Tuesday, March 19, at Igongo Cultural Center in Mbarara City with the inauguration of the new board presided over by the State Minister of Health in charge of General Duties Hon Kawooya who represented the Minister of Health on Tuesday.

In his remarks, Dr Celestine Barigye the Hospital Director General and Secretary to the Board reported that through the outgoing hospital management board led by Prof. Iraka Owange, the hospital has attained a number of milestones.

“Allow me to report that back in the day, the Hospital was like a home without an entry and exit door with visitors entering from every corner and angle. This was in total jeopardy towards our client’s right to safety and privacy. We lobbied the Government and secured 1.2 billion shillings which we used to construct the perimeter wall; dubbed “the great wall of Mbarara” which has addressed the critical question of security”, Dr Barigye said.

He added that through lobbying with the Outgoing Hospital Board, the central government facilitated the construction of a 32-unit housing facility at the tune of 5.7 billion shillings.

 This is aimed at addressing the problem of access to staff accommodation given that the majority are still staying outside the hospital premises. However, he asked for more funding to establish additional housing infrastructures.

The hospital director was concerned about the worrying state of the patient’s wards adding that majority of the structures are dilapidated. Over two decades ago, the president had laid a foundation stone marking the expansion of Mbarara Hospital to a National Referral Hospital.

“The President’s promise has not been actualized. We are hopeful that you will remind him to make it true as late as yesterday so as to empower this facility to ably render adequate and quality services to the people of Uganda”, Dr Barigye stated.

Meanwhile, he recommended the support given to the hospital through USAID Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Strengthening Activity which he says has enabled the hospital to achieve its dream of becoming a Center of Excellence.

“This support from the American Government has improved the quality of healthcare services in HIV, TB, selected reproductive maternal, newborn, child, adolescent care and nutrition services across the region. Hon Minister, please thank the American Government for the support rendered to this hospital and the other regional referral hospitals”, he says.

Chief guest Hon Anifa Kawoya (yellow) in a group photo with the new and old board members and invited guests at Igongo Cultural Center

Prof Iraka, the outgoing board chairman applauded the symbiotic relationship that existed between the board and the hospital administration under his tenure.

He asked the government to prioritize regional referral hospitals through equipping them with the necessary diagnostic equipment, and workforce in order to effect service delivery.

Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi, the Mbarara City Mayor reported that inadequate facilities at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital has made it difficult for patients to find where to sleep.

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“I always go to the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital with or without the knowledge of Dr Barigye but what do you find, people, sleeping on the floor. Hon Minister, it’s the right time for you and the government to prioritize this hospital”, Kakyebezi said.

In her response, Hon Anifa Kawoya pledged to bring the matter of revamping Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital to a national hospital before the attention of the government. She acknowledged that, unlike other hospitals of its stature, Mbarara Referral Hospital has been at the center of attracting many patients which contributes to rampant congestion.

She stressed that due to a wide range of specialized services offered by the hospital, it has continued to receive many referrals from other regional referral hospitals and neighbouring countries.

“Government is fully committed to supporting healthcare service delivery and I thank Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital under the leadership of Dr Barigye for lobbying for this hospital. Can you imagine that the hospital has forty specialized services? We will continue to help you to achieve the dream of becoming a national or specialized hospital”, she said.

Hon Anifa Kawoya, State Minister of Health In-Charge of General Duties speaking shortly after the inauguration of new members.

 The minister acknowledged the American support through USAID Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital and other regional referral hospitals. She said such partnerships are paramount in complementing the Ugandan government’s efforts to improve healthcare service delivery.

She also implored the newly sworn-in board members to be proactive and work towards the development of the hospital.

Halson Kagure, the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Public Relations Officer says that the regional hospital management board is significant in advocating for quality services, transparency and strategic leadership.

According to the Ministry of Health Guidelines, the Referral Hospital Management Board comprises of nine members four of whom are women and three ex-officios. 

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Dr James Mugume now takes over from Professor Iraka Owange as the new Board Chairman whereas Dr Celestine Barigye the MRRH Director took an oath as the Secretary to the Board.

Other members include Juliet Ankunda, the Acting Senior Principal Nursing Officer, Dr Aggrey Kagwisagye, Ms Atuhaire Proscovia a Practicing Lawyer, Engineer Jackson Nimusiima a Civil Engineer, Dr Stavia Turyahabwe, a Representative of the Ministry of Health and Mr Assy Abirebe Mbarara City Clerk.

Ms Sarah Mulongo the MRRH PHA took an oath as one of ex-officio

Three EX-Officios are Dr Peter Ssebutinde Mbarara District Health Officer, Mr Melchoir Byaruhanga, Mbarara University Secretary, Manzi Mbabazize MRRH Pharmacist and Ms Sarah Mulongo MRRH Principal Hospital Administrator.

The Ministry of Health Guidelines stipulates that the Board shall co-opt hospital members of staff as and when required but not more than two members.

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