Residents of Cyanika border town in Kisoro district will no longer have to travel long distances for quality healthcare following the establishment of a level four community health unit in the area.
The facility that contains an Out-Patients Department, a fully equipped Maternity Ward and furnished staff units is a brainchild of the Gender Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana, who established it in collaboration with his family and well-wishers in memory of his late sister, Sr. Clare Nsenga.
Nsenga was a Catholic nun who passed on due to breast cancer in 1993. She was a member of the Religious Congregation of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mbarara.
According to Bigirimana, the entire project cost a total of Sh600 million, which was fundraised by family members and friends from Mercy Action, Norwich Diocese and St. Thomas Church in the United
The project now run under the Clare Nsenga Foundation targets saving the lives of mothers in Kisoro district and neighboring countries like Rwanda and DR Congo.
“A week before her death, my sister called me at her hospital bed in Nsambya hospital. She told me that she was going to die but requested that I accomplish two things for her.”
Bigirimana revealed during the official unveiling of the facility on Saturday.
“One was to finish a book she was scripting as a tribute to our father Mzee Peter Kalerangabo and secondly to find means of establishing a health facility in Cyanika. She emphasized this because my brother’s wife had died of excessive bleeding due to the absence of health facilities in Cyanika. She had just given birth and was being pushed on a bicycle to Mutolere hospital,” Bigirimana said.
“This is a dream come true. I went on to complete the book she was writing and now the health facility is here and growing. I believe I have delivered on her requests” Bigirimana said to a loud
applause from a congregation of elated residents and guests.
The Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda who presided over the ceremony said he was moved by the significant development in the health sector taking place in Kisoro district especially the facility
initiated and inspired by the late Clare Nsenga.
He commended Bigirimana for embracing the inspiration of his late sister with support from his family and friends.
“This has grown from being a family initiative to become a district, national and an International initiative,” he noted.
Rugunda expressed gratitude that the centre is already being used as a health education centre with community outreaches on hygiene.
He said the facility will go an extra mile in consolidating ties between the people of Kisoro and the people of United States who identify with the cause of Clare Nsenga Foundation.
“We are building durable, permanent relationships all inspired from the life of Nsenga. These are great moments because it doesn’t stop at the social level. Even at the political level, it strengthens ties
between the Americans and the people of Kisoro and Uganda at large.” he said.
He noted that the project was in line with government policy to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for people in the area including neighbors of Kisoro.
“As I was going around, the level of hygiene, organization and
happiness I saw among the mothers who delivered over the last 24 hours, is clear evidence that this centre is exceptional and will help our people,” Rugunda observed.
Three mothers had given birth at the facility in the night leading to the opening ceremony.
Rugunda said government is committed to support the health facility financially and technically.
Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus, who is the Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of Global Health Training at the University of Connecticut and serving as a medical advisor to the Clare Nsenga Foundation, promised continued support towards the growth of the facility and people of
Every six months, the University sends at least two volunteer Intern Medical students to the health unit in Kisoro. The late Nsenga was given a scholarship in 1983 to study at Saint Joseph College West Hartford, Connecticut where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Home Economics and later completed her Masters in Food Chemistry and Resource Management. She left an imprint on communities in Connecticut who supported and continue to promote her vision to improve the lives of young people especially women.
The Minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs, Peace Mutuuzo and Kisoro district chairman Abel Bizimana urged residents in the area to make use of the facility in an effort to curb maternal mortality.
Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, Hajji Shafiq Ssekandi, urged people of Kisoro especially those with resources to use the prevailing peace and establish more community projects to uplift the area.
He also urged government to allocate more medicines to districts along the borders saying such districts serve more than the indigenous population. He reported that Kisoro district has a population of around 300,000 people but health facilities in the area treat more than 600,000 patients due to an influx of patients from Rwanda and DR Congo.
He commended Clare Nsenga Foundation for the immunization program they run saying it will help to cover the remaining 9% of unimmunized children in the district. He said so far the district has 91%
At the same event, Rugunda called on the people of Kisoro to turn-up in big numbers and vote for women and local council leaders but emphasized they must chose leaders who will help their area to
grow. He also advised them to support government programs like the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP), Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) and Operation Wealth Creation to kick poverty out of their homes. He saluted people of Kisoro for remaining united and said such should be emulated.