Health Minister Aceng pledges support to Ruharo mission hospital

Health Minister Aceng pledges support to Ruharo mission hospital

By Amos Kakungulu
Mbarara – The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng received various challenges faced by patients and staffs at Ruharo Mission Hospital, and pledged to extend her efforts and support as long as she’s still in the health docket.
“My dear Bishop and the entire team, allow me to say a big thank to you for the job that you are doing. I have seen and felt that the hospital needs a lot of support and you have said it. It might be support in terms of running costs, support in terms of specialists, and of course support in terms of being available when we are needed. Allow me to say whenever we can and if am still in this position I will try to do my best,” Aceng said.
This pledge was made on Friday as the Minister commissioned a children’s Cancer ward at Ruharo Mission Hospital in Mbarara city; one of the strongest private, and popular eye center, and mission hospital in Uganda, and East Africa.
The hospital has been facing the challenge of lack of enough infrastructure including that of the children’s ward which is now history, though there is still need for more structures at the same facility.
The construction of the children’s ward is under the foundation of Dr. Keith Waddell one of the founders and medical advisor to the hospital.
Among the challenges addressed to Dr. Aceng according to Beckson Tayebwa; the Hospital Medical Superintendent,  like lack of resources to hire maintained competent staffs/human resource especially doctors, specialists, and many other cadres.
There is also minimal support from government. Another challenge that the hospital is facing is of old infrastructure which is not enough currently.
Dr. Tayebwa revealed that before construction of the children’s ward, most of cases of children and mothers would be on the floor plus patients would also sleep on the floor because beds were few.  But for now, it has been sorted slowly by donors.
According to Dr. Tayebwa, the hospital has got a manufacturing facility which they called production unit. They currently manufacture over 80% of the eye drops which they use in the section of eye center at the hospital, and the rest is sold to generate funds which they use to support in payments of staff and other services.
“We would wish to get further equipment and other resources to make sure that we do even automated services in that unit so that we can do massive production and we serve the community that we are living and also generate some funds to make sure that Ruharo Mission Hospital continues running,” Dr. Tayebwa said.
He also also stated that the hospital is a private hospital under the Diocese of Ankole whose strength is in outreach services. The hospital operates as a static and outreach service to a catchment population of about 12 million in western Uganda.
“We stretch from the areas of  Mbarara, Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Sheema, Ntungamo, Isingiro, Bundibugyo, Kagadi, Fortportal, Masaka, and neighbouring districts. With that population we always go there and do outreaches specifically. So far this year we have operated about 1,734 patients eyes and all surgeries are done for free in these outreaches.
We have dispensed about 6,863 spectacles for free during the last one year. We have  in the last quarter also, 709 eye surgeries were done at zero cost to the patients” he added.
Bishop Prof. Dr. Sheldon Mwesigwa, the Bishop of Ankole said that Ruharo Eye Center started as a small eye clinic offering outreach services in 1994 and the mission hospital started 1995.
He noted that it could not have been possible without partners. CBM is the major donors to the eye center, and main Hospital, adding that it has survived for all these years because of donors.
However, Bishop Mwesigwa also identified some challenges that have effected the hospital in which he mentioned high cost of health services , fluctuation of equipment and medicines yet the majority of clients are of low economic status, hence the hospital always struggles.
He also mentioned the high turnover of human resource challenge for example special eye doctors and all others.
“This is more likely due to low wages because funds are usually generated from friends, and being a mission hospital, the philosophy is different and the staff here are committed, money is a secondary motivation, but their pay is not supportive.
Therefore, guest of honour and officials if you could help and support in this respect and also seconding of specialists so that there is sustainable service delivery in this hospital we would be glad. The people who serve us are the citizens of this country and this hospital in not for profit. Let us implore government to support this already established structure,” Bishop Mwesigwa appealed.

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