MTN Uganda Constructs and Equips Maternity Ward at Ibakwe health center II in Palorinya Refugee Settlement Camp 

  • MTN Uganda Foundation has handed over a newly constructed and furnished maternity ward at Ibakwe HC II in Obongi district to combat the soaring maternal and child mortality rates in the region.
  • The Ugx.400Million project was implemented by MTN Uganda foundation in partnership with Medical Teams International, the Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR. 
  • This corporate Social Investment in Ibakwe HC II by the MTN Uganda Foundation is part of a Ugx.1 billion pledge made to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) through UNHCR at the Refugee summit in 2017.
  • Ibakwe health center II in Obongi district is to be upgraded to heath center III as per the Ministry of Health guidelines with the support of the MTN Uganda foundation 

MTN Uganda Foundation has today handed over a newly constructed and equipped maternity ward at Ibakwe HC II in Obongi district, in a concerted effort to lower the soaring maternal and child mortality rates in the region. This project is underpinned by MTN’s commitment to creating shared value and improving the lives of the people living in the communities within which it operates.

In line with its commitment to investing in Uganda’s health sector with the aim of achieving SDG 3 which focuses on health and well-being, MTN Uganda Foundation injected a total of Ugx.400Million in the construction and equipping of a full-fledged maternity ward complete with delivery beds, running water, electricity, and sanitary facilities among others. 

The maternity ward was commissioned today in an event held at Ibakwe Health Center II in Obongi, presided over by the Obongi District Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Matata Buga. Also in attendance was Amina Rukia, the OPM Secretary in charge of Health, MTI’s Country Director, Daryl Crowden and the UNHCR Moyo sub-office head, Sana Khana.

While handing over the newly constructed maternity ward, Phillip Odoi, the MTN Uganda Northern Region Business Manager said that the new maternity ward will ease the issue of overcrowding that the mothers previously faced while seeking antenatal and maternity services at the health center. 

“Due to the ever-growing health needs of people living in this settlement, it is important that we support the government’s efforts in extending better health services to them,” said Odoi.

Plans are also underway to upgrade the facility into a health center III as a way of improving health services delivery to the masses in the Palorinya refugee settlement. The Palorinya refugee settlement camp in Obongi District inhabits about 80% of Sudanese refugees who fled their country in hope of a better and safe life in Uganda. The camp is about 10km away from the nearest capable health facility and has had an urgent need for improved health services in the area for a while.

This corporate Social Investment in Ibakwe HC II by the MTN Uganda Foundation is part of a Ugx.1 billion pledge made to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) through UNHCR at the Refugee summit in 2017.

Officially opening the maternity ward at Ibakwe HC II tht will benefit the residents of the Palorinya Refugee settlement in Obongi district.

The first part of the pledge saw the MTN Uganda Foundation procure and distribute 10 cold chain refrigerators to 10 refugee health-supporting facilities. These facilities include; Arua-Oduoi HC III, Moyo -Idiwa HC III, Isingiro-Rulongo HC II, Kikuube-Malembaa HC II, Yumbe-Bidibidi HC III, Yumbe- Bangatuti H III, Yumbe-winga HC III, Lamwo-Awich HC III, Kyegegwa-Mukonde HC II, and Kamwenge-Kyempango HC III to safely transport and store medicines and vaccines.

The newly constructed maternity ward at Ibakwe HC II and its eventual upgrade into a HCIII will go a long way in meeting the health service needs of the people in Obongi district and its surrounding areas.

In his keynote speech at the Maternity ward handover ceremony held at Ibakwe Health Center II, Matata Buga, the Obongi district RDC said that the construction of a new maternity ward at Ibakwe HC II is going to highly contribute to the health centers’ upgrading to the level of Health center III as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.

” The construction and equipping of the maternity ward at Ibakwe HC II has brought me such joy and confidence in companies like MTN Uganda. This has indeed shown us that the company indeed cares about the communities so much that they are supporting the efforts of the government of Uganda by undertaking projects to make a positive impact in these communities.” Buga said.

MTN Uganda, in a bid to achieve its objectives of creating shared value and doing good together, has over the years accelerated the implementation of partnerships like this one with Medical Teams International and UNHCR that saw the realization and completion of the project. 

MTN Uganda has over the years showcased its commitment to improving the communities in which they operate by engaging in socio-economic developments and ensuring that livelihoods are changed for the better.

Over the years, MTN Uganda has been donating all its Marathon proceeds towards improving maternal health services across the country. Some of the past beneficiaries include; Kawempe Hospital, Muyembe HC IV, Karugutu HC IV, Kalangala HCIV and Pakwach HC IV among others.

Key among the interventions MTN is undertaking this year, is the upgrade of Ibakwe health Centre II in Palorinya refugee settlement located in Obongi district and Bwizi health centre III in Western Uganda.

MTN supports the focus on groundwater to combat water scarcity

Last week, on 22nd March, MTN joined the rest of the world in celebration of World Water day under the theme: “Groundwater, making the invisible visible”, a theme aimed at spotlighting the importance of underground water in curbing water scarcity around the world.

Increasingly, different countries around the world are facing water scarcity as a result of climate change, which poses a threat to the future of human and animal life in those countries.

Closer to home, there has been great concern about water shortages resulting from climate change in the East African region. In a 2022 report, Oxfam International warned that as many as 28 million people across East Africa could face severe hunger if lack of rain persists through March.

News reports in Uganda indicate that some areas of the country such as Nakasongola and Gulu are challenged by water scarcity due to prolonged drought in those regions. In some cases, people have resorted to using dirty water from the lake for cooking which is a recipe for water-borne diseases.

On the other hand, research documented by WaterAid and the British Geological Survey in 2022 reveals that there is enough groundwater in Africa for most countries to survive at least five years of drought – and some, more than 50 years.

However, investment into tapping these groundwater sources to provide clean and safe water to communities remains limited.  Ground water in Africa is commonly sourced from beneath the land surface for instance through boreholes, springs and wells.

In a statement released recently, Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid in the UK, said: “There are vast reserves of water right under people’s feet, many of which are replenished every year by rainfall and other surface water, but they can’t access it because services are chronically underfunded. Tapping into groundwater would ensure millions of people have access to safe, clean water no matter what the climate crisis throws at them.”  

To bridge this gap, there is need for collaboration between both non-profit and profit organisations geared towards increasing access to clean water in the country.

Companies such as MTN are making progress in this initiative. The telecom company over the years has dedicated proceeds from MTN Kampala Marathon towards construction of boreholes in water-scarce areas of Northern Uganda including Amuria and Nakapiripirit.

The boreholes have extended access to clean water to more than 4000 people including refugees in the country.

During the thick of the pandemic in 2020, MTN Uganda partnered with National Water and Sewerage Corporation to provide 23 bulk water points to water stressed areas of Kampala to mitigate the spread of the virus due to of lack of water.

According to Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer, the volatile climate conditions today underscore the significance of groundwater in the survival of the human race.

“We cannot afford to ignore the significance of groundwater today because it poses a solution to some of the water scarcity challenges around the world. And as investment into exploration of this water source gains momentum, there is need for collective responsibility in guaranteeing water conservation,” he said.

Explaining MTN’s effort in extending access to clean and safe water across the country, Vanhelleputte also added: “The goal behind MTN’s investment in this initiative is fuelled by our belief that MTN can only flourish when the communities and ecosystems in which it operates are healthy. In addition, as part of our Ambition 2025 strategy, MTN Group commits to further drive efforts to create shared value, with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) at the core.

 

 

MTN Foundation Equips Mother Kevin Health centre III in Kamuli district.

  • MTN Foundation has today handed over a newly refurbished and equipped Mother Kevin health centre III in Mbulamuti sub-county, Kamuli district.
  • This initiative underpins MTN’s commitment of improving the livelihoods of the communities in which it operates through its corporate social responsibility.

In order to extend quality maternal health care services to the people of Mbulamuti, sub-county, MTN Foundation has today handed over a newly refurbished and equipped Mother Kevin health centre III in Kamuli district.

MTN Foundation, through Joint Medical Stores in 2020 refurbished and equipped Mother Kevin health centre III in Mbulamuti, with the aim of kick-starting operations at the facility which was non-operational for 10 years, due to lack of medical equipment.

The project which cost UGX122million focused on equipping the labour ward with items such as delivery beds, medicine trolleys, baby resuscitators, suction pump, catheter, patient beds in the maternity ward, oxygen cylinder and regulator to mention but a few.  The laboratory, post natal ward, store and doctor’s room among others were also equipped with an array of medical equipment.

Speaking during the official handover of the facility held today at Mother Kevin health centre III in Kamuli, the MTN General Manager for Customer Experience, Dorcas Muhwezi said that the project was driven by the telecom’s vision to improve the livelihood of the communities in which it operates.

“MTN sought to empower the hardworking staff of Mother Kevin health centre III in order to provide safe and quality health care to the people in Kamuli and the surrounding districts. This initiative underpins our commitment to improving the livelihoods of the communities in which we operate through our corporate social responsibility,” Muhwezi said.

Through this project, MTN Foundation also constructed sanitary facilities such as a placenta pit and lavatories for the health centre.

The Executive director Joint Medical Stores Dr. Bildard Baguma, said this project is testament that combined efforts culminate into great achievements.

“The 30,000 patients who are going to benefit from the infrastructural upgrades and state of the art medical equipment that this project has provided are the reason why we are so proud of our partnership with MTN Foundation. We look forward to more projects like these to impact even more people.” he noted.

While making his remarks, the Resident District Commissioner, Kamuli district, Robert Mutemo applauded the MTN Foundation for the impact that it has created in the district.

“I am extremely happy and grateful to the MTN Foundation for the work it has achieved at this facility. I am informed that since the equipment of this facility in 2020, the health centre in 2021 provided services to over 1500 people in the region. This would all not be possible if it was not for MTN Foundation and its commitment towards supporting the government agenda of ensuring that all Ugandans have access to quality social services,” he said.

Further recognizing MTN’s initiatives in the region, Mutemo said MTN has over the years continually demonstrated a fondness for the Busoga sub-region through the numerous donations and CSR activities undertaken to improve the livelihood of the people in Busoga.

In 2020, MTN boosted palliative care services in Busoga sub-region through a cash donation to Rays of Hope Hospital, a non-governmental organization that provides palliative care to improve the quality of life for people with life-threatening illnesses and their families in Busoga region and the neighboring districts.

In the same year, the telecom also signed a 2-year partnership with the Obwa Kyabazinga bwa Busoga Kingdom worth UGX 600 million with focus on the kingdom’s social, cultural, and economic programs in the areas of health, sports, and culture.

“Efforts such as this one by MTN fortify government efforts towards extending quality and affordable health care for all Ugandans,” Mutemo noted.

MTN Foundation Uganda Refurbishes Karugutu health Centre IV

  • MTN Foundation has today handed over a newly refurbished and equipped maternity theatre and ward to the Karugutu health centre IV in Ntoroko district.
  • The facility was in dire need of renovation to restore the dilapidated structures.
  • The Karugutu health centre IV refurbishment is part of a larger commitment by MTN Foundation and its partners to refurbish four other health centres across the country through UGX1.3Billion project funded by proceeds from the MTN Kampala Marathon since 2018.

In an effort to boost maternal and child health care, MTN Foundation has today handed over a newly refurbished and equipped maternity theatre and ward to the Karugutu health centre IV in Ntoroko district.

Karugutu health centre IV is a government-owned facility which serves a catchment population of 27,000 people in the western region of Uganda. According to Fredrick Kahuma, the hospital incharge of Karugutu health centre IV, there was a dire need for renovation of the dilapidated structures especially in the maternity theater which affected service delivery.

“The theater lacked properly functioning equipment to carry out some surgical procedures, for example we didn’t have a suction machine that is used to remove fluid in order to get a clear view of the area one is operating on.  The doors were also broken and walls were damaged which posed a security threat to equipment in the theater as well as an unsterile operating environment for the pregnant mothers,” Kahuma recounts.

It is against that background that the MTN Foundation with support from the official partners of the MTN Kampala Marathon: Rwenzori Bottling Company, Vision Group, Stanbic Bank and Huawei dedicated UGX180million towards the refurbishment of the health centre.  The project was implemented by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) through Ministry of Health.

The Karugutu health centre IV refurbishment is part of a grand commitment by MTN Foundation and its partners to refurbish five other health centres across the country through UGX1.3Billion project funded by proceeds from the MTN Kampala Marathon since 2018.

While handing over the facility, Ibrahim Senyonga the General Manager of the Enterprise Business Unit said the initiative to refurbish Karugutu health Centre IV reaffirms MTN’s commitment to improving the lives of people in Uganda through supporting government endeavors to extend quality social services to the communities.

“Under this project, MTN Foundation has invested UGX180million to rehabilitate the maternity theater and ward of Karugutu health center IV with quality infrastructure. The health center has also been equipped with medical equipment such as a suction used during operations, delivery beds, delivery kits and baby warmers used in neonatal intensive care units among other items. Our hope is to save lives of mothers and children during childbirth,” Ibrahim said noting that the initiative is timely as the world draws closer to celebrating the International Women’s Day.

Senyonga was reiterated by the Director Curative services at the Ministry of Health, Dr Charles Olaro, who was representing the state minister for health. He appreciated MTN for its support in ensuring affordable healthcare services in the country.

“We value the engagements with private sector such as MTN Foundation in the improvement of public health services. Around most of the already accomplished interventions MTN has undertaken, we are now seeing increased utilization of maternal and child health services. I am optimistic we shall be able to see it here (Karugutu) too,” he said.

Similarly appreciating MTN and its partners for the effort, Kahuma said: “We have received a range of equipment that will enable us offer better and efficient health care to our patients. The additional beds will also enable us carry out more operations so more women and children will receive medical attention,” he said.

Other health centres expected to benefit from the project include: Muyembe health centre IV in Bulambuli district, Kalangala health centre IV in Kalangala district and Pakwach health centre IV in Pakwach district.

As part of the project, MTN Foundation in 2020 invested UGX400m in refurbishing and equipping Kawempe Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Dr Edson Muhwezi, the assistant representative UNFPA said the organization takes pride in a partnership with MTN Foundation to leverage each other’s added value to reduce maternal deaths and help women and girls in Uganda.

MTN bed donations increase safe deliveries in govt health centres

Before 2018, Busiu Health Centre IV in Mbale district received about 60 women delivering at the facility every month.

The health center which at the time had very limited beds tried to house the mothers for at least 24 hours for purposes of medical review in vain.

“Initially we would tell the mother to stay around for 24 hours but when there was no room for the mother to sleep, she would go away,” Dr. Maumbe Bernard the in-charge of Busiu Health Centre IV narrates.

The early departure of the mothers from the health center was one of the reasons why some of the newly born babies died soon after. About 3 babies were dying in a period of three months.

Today, child mortality at the health center is near extinguished. According to Dr. Maumbe, the health center now goes three months without recording any deaths.

These results are a culmination of combined efforts by the hospital and MTN Uganda.

MTN Foundation led by MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhelleputte handed over 10 beds, mattresses, bedsheets and mosquito nets to the district health officer Dr Jonathan Wangisi

MTN in the evening of 2018 donated beds and blankets to the health center which have since enabled more pregnant women seek maternity health care services.

The beds have allowed women stay over for a longer period enabling medical review of the mother and baby.

“Before we would have around 60 deliveries and now over a month, an average of 120 mothers are delivering from here but some months peak to 200. Antenatal visits are about 80 to 100,” he explains adding that hospital efforts of availing medicine have also played a key role in this outcome.

The telecom company also renovated the maternity ward which Dr Maumbe says has contributed to encouraging mothers to visit the health centre to seek proper medical antenatal services

In fact, the impact is far-reaching as Busiu health center IV has now graduated to become a referral station for women in neighboring towns of Butaleja and Manafwa.

Kyenjojo hospital tells the same tale. The hospital received 30 beds and 30 mattresses from MTN which were installed in the general ward. Charles Tusiime, the health officer of Kyenjojo district says these beds have been very instrumental in delivering treatment to the people from the western district.

“The impact much as patients may not know is great. One bed can be used by so many people. In a month you find one bed has served about 5 to 10 people with bed occupancy of about 3 days,” he said.

As he recounts, the hospital in the past would times get overwhelmed by the numbers which would force some of the patients to sleep on the floor, a situation they described as floor cases.

Tusiime says the hospital no longer has floor cases in its general ward because of the MTN intervention.

The intervention has also reduced the burden for the hospital allowing it to focus on other aspects in regards to its budget and procurement.

“What we would have been using for procurement of beds has been diverted to construction of 2 emptiable pit latrines which have addressed the costs associated with the hospital’s sewerage system” he says.

MTN under the UGX400m access to health care initiative supported health centres and hospitals through refurbishing of maternity wards and donation of beddings such as blankets, mosquito nets, mattresses and beds.

Similarly, some of the health centres received solar lighting equipment and had their entire water system connected.

A total of 8 health centres and 5 hospitals across the country were supported.

Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN Uganda Chief executive officer lauded the hospitals and health centre staff saying MTN is pleased with the impact they have managed to drive in the community.

“I am very delighted to see the ripple effect of the donation. It makes us at MTN very happy to see lives of many people impacted and for that I would like to thank the medical staff making this happen. As MTN, we shall constantly seek to find ways of transforming lives of Ugandans,” he appreciated.

Quicker treatment for patients as MTN blood plasma extractor MTN blood plasma extractor accelerates component extraction

Patients in need of blood are receiving quicker treatment following an MTN Uganda donation of the automated blood component extractor to Uganda Blood Transfusion services (UBTS) which mines components faster.

Prior to the donation, UBTS used manual methods of blood component extraction which took about 30 minutes to extract samples from about ten samples compared to the one minute using the automated machine.

The process, Otekat says was slow leading to equally tortoise-paced service provision to hospitals and patients in need of blood components for treatment especially those in regional areas.

However, Ms Grace Otekat head of laboratories UBTS says the machine has now enabled the blood bank improve component extraction which is critical to the treatment of accident and cancer patients.

“Because of existence of the extractor, the number of components has increased. We can now extract 48 platelets from the 24 we used to get so now we have enough platelets. Because of presence of the machine, when other centres like Masaka, Mbarara request for extracts, we have enough to distribute to all of them,” she says.

Aside from Gulu and Mbale which have their own centrifuge; the machine used to separate the components of blood, UBTS supplies blood extracts to all other government hospitals countrywide.

According to Ms Otekat, UBTS supplies over 400 hospitals with blood components countrywide.

In July 2019, MTN, through the MTN Foundation donated UGX. 347 million for the purchase of the automatic blood plasma extractor machine along with three refrigerators to three regional blood banks.

The move was envisaged to improve blood processing and blood storage since fridges at some of the regional blood banks were old and characterised by frequent breakdowns.

For instance at Arua regional blood bank, breakdowns could happen as frequently as two to three times a month risking destruction of the blood.

Relieved Mbale regional hospital said challenges relating to storage are now addressed.

Similarly, UBTS has now doubled the number of components supplied to different hospitals culminating into increased availability and delivery to patients.

In addition, it has led to efficiency in blood extraction since more components are mined compared to the manual method where they used the naked eye.

Mr. Bryan Mbasa, the Senior Manager, MTN Foundation says MTN is proud to have been part of a process that has seen service delivery transform for the better around different hospitals of the country.

“We are glad to have contributed to the reform which has led to saving of more lives of different people in Uganda. As MTN, we prioritize the lives of not only our staff but also strive to improve the health conditions in the country at large,” he says.

He also applauded UBTS for its pivotal role in safeguarding human life in Uganda.

Why blood components are important

From blood, different components are extracted including plasma and platelets.

Plasma is used to make a range of essential pharmaceutical products, such as those used to treat people with immune deficiencies or bleeding disorders.

According to Red Cross, Platelets give cancer patients the strength they need to keep fighting.

A major side effect of treatment for cancer patients is low platelet count which without a platelet transfusion can lead to life-threatening bleeding because platelets help blood to clot.

Platelets also help patients survive major surgeries or serious injuries for example accidents since they help in blood clotting.

Platelets give strength to patients with blood disorders and those with transplants.

MTN solar fridges boost covid-19 vaccination in refugee communities

“Within an average of four hours, a non-refrigerated vaccine becomes ineffective,” Amos Asiku, the facility in charge at Bidibidi health centre III in Northern Uganda says.

Incidences of vaccines getting destroyed due to lack of refrigeration were common at the health centre which has been operational since 2016.

The health centre at the time had gas powered fridges with multiple mechanical faults causing breakdowns every so often, putting the vaccines at risk of getting destroyed. In addition, refilling of the gas in the fridge was strenuous since it was done from a distant area lasting multiple days.

“It had frequent breakdowns and when it went off, the faster you acted, the better, because the fridge would no longer be regulated, the vaccines would go bad which I termed as wasted because it can no longer be used,”Asiku recounts.

In the event of a break down, Bidibidi health centre III would move all the vaccines to a nearby government hospital for refrigeration which affected operation at the health centre in addition to time wastage.

The vaccine storage challenge affected about 150 people that visit the health centre on a daily basis including women and mothers in search for polio and early immunization vaccines.

In a twist of events, the hurdles became a story of the past after MTN in partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) donated a solar powered fridge which would later become the salvation to a pandemic in the refugee settlement.

“MTN gave us a solar powered vaccine fridge that is able to run for 24 hours. It makes the antigens available for patients meaning they are able to access them at any time,” he says.

Some of the vaccines housed at the hospital include polio, HPV and most recently covid-19.

According to Asiku, the fridge has been very critical in safe keeping of the covid-19 vaccines which were received in May and have been administered in accordance with ministry of health guidelines.

“Covid-19 vaccines are also maintained on cold chain so we were able to maintain them under cold conditions to keep them safe until such a time when people wanted to take the vaccine,” he said.

As covid-19 cases rise in the country, the health centre is a medical relief to South Sudanese refugees and most recently Congolese refugees along with the area host community.

Bidibidi is only one of 10 health centres that were in dire need of refrigerators for vaccine preservation. In partnership with UNHCR, MTN handed over 10 solar fridges worth Shs600m to Odupi Health Centre III, Imvepi Refugee Settlement, .Swinga Health Centre II, Bidibidi Refugee Settlement.

Others included; Bangatuti Health Centre III, .Idiwa Health Centre III, Palorinya Refugee Settlement, PaludaHealth Centre II, Nakivale Refugee Settlement and Rulongo health centre II among others.

 

Rulongo health centre II in Isingiro is the converging area for refugees from Rwanda, Congo and Burundi. Like Bidibidi, Rulongo has greatly benefitted from the fridge especially during the pandemic.

 

“The problem we commonly get with vaccines is storage but this fridge is on 24 hours so you immunize and vaccinate clients at any time. For example we have already vaccinated people from covid-19,” Juliet Tuhirirwe, a midwife at Rulongo health centre 2 said.

 

Additionally, the fridges provided large space allowing for more doses of vaccines to be stored.

 

Speaking days after commemoration of the world refugee day, Conrad Olowo, Project Manager, MTN Foundation says MTN has over the years dedicated a lot of support to all communities including refugees in Uganda.

“We are glad to have played a critical role in strengthening the fight against covid-19. MTN through its operations also ensures to contribute to the fight against the virus through streamlining communication and financial services through mobile money,” he said.

 

He was reiterated by Wendy Daphne Kasujja the assistant Reporting Officer, External Engagement, UNHCR who affirmed that MTN has supported the refugees in Uganda and host communities with a focus on the health sector.

“Through their donation of medical fridges and construction of a full maternity ward in Palorinya refugee settlement, MTN has helped in ensuring that children get immunized, and contributed to the improvement of maternal and child health. The support received is not limited to refugees alone but includes the host communities in which they live, since refugees access the same government health facilities as the nationals,” she says.

UNHCR urged the private sector to support the refugee response in Uganda; a home to 1.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTN water ambulance saves lives in Kiyindi

“An expectant mother in Buvuma hoped for a normal and safe delivery just like any other woman on earth. But for women in Buvuma, it was a matter of life or death. The health centre three on the island surrounded by water can only handle ordinary deliveries. In case of C-sections, the expectant mother would need to be ferried to Kiyindi town council, where she can be operated on. But the only ferry available rides on a schedule; three times a day,” former mayor kiyindi town council Dickson Kasujja Kabuye reminisces.

The Kiyindi-Buvuma route currently has one ferry that carries 120 passengers and 8 cars, making three trips each day between Kiyindi landing site in Buikwe district and Kirongo landing site in Buvuma district.

Essentially, there was no emergency medical relief for an expectant mother in need of operation on Buvuma Island.

It all changed in June last year when MTN donated an emergency ambulance water boat to Kiyindi.

The 15 Seater state-of-the-art water rescue vessel would be used to respond to water transport and health emergencies in Buvuma and Buikwe districts among other areas served by the Kiyindi landing site.

The modern water emergency rescue vessel made by Fisheries Training Institute, Entebbe and licensed by Ministry of Works and Transport was worth Ush 52 Million made of fibre glass, enveloped by a waterproof canopy and cushion seats.

It has a Yamaha outboard engine DT 40, anchor, 2 oars, fire extinguisher, 5 lifeguards, first aid box and patient stretcher.

According to Kabuye, the boat has been very useful in transporting patients from Buvuma to access medical services from Buikwe district.

“Almost 50 per cent of the people living in Buvuma are from Buikwe district so the boat helps us to transport them from Buvuma to the main island of Buikwe so it is very useful to us,” he says.

He goes on to narrate; “Previously, there was no way you could transport an expectant mother to Buikwe district because you had to wait for a ferry which moves in shifts. Now it is very easy to transport because this boat runs so fast,” he says.

The boat, Kabuye says takes about 30 minutes to move from Buvuma district to Buikwe mainland in Kiyindi for medical care.

The boat was also very essential during the days of lockdown during which covid-19 patients were transported from Buvuma to Buikwe for medical health care.

“We got about 3-5 COVID-19 patients from Buvuma so it would go and pick them and finds the motor ambulance stationed in Kiyindi,” he says.

Fishermen deaths mitigated

The tales were not unique to the town council. Fishermen live to hail the ambulance which has saved lives of many on the lake.

Paul Jumba, leader of fishermen in Kiyindi mans the emergency boat along with 2 others.  He narrates that on his many rides called upon by the town folk, he has saved many people from drowning.

“I have saved some people we have found drowning using our first aid kit,” he says.

But the commonest occurrence is the exhaustion of fuel in water boats on the lake.

“Since there is no petrol station on the lake, we run to the rescue of the fishermen on the lake,” he says.

Jumba also reveals that the boat has transported district officials around the islands to sensitise different members of the public on how to maintain standards of operation such as wearing masks and washing hands.

The donation of the emergency boat followed a request from the fishing community last year when MTN Uganda staff visited Kiyindi landing site to launch their annual staff voluntary program dubbed “21 days of y’ello care”.

Mr Patrick Tusiime, the regional commercial head said MTN is proud to have contributed to the safeguarding of lives around the islands only accessible through water.

“We appreciate the work accomplished by the team manning the boat. MTN prioritizes lives of the people we serve and we are glad that the boat is saving and helping many people in the region,” he also noted.

 

Children with disabilities get medical relief in MTN-Corsu hospital partnership

For close to two years, Doreen Ataro lived with a bent leg painted with burn bruises from a fire accident.

At only one and a half years of age, the young girl fell in a pool of fire where she was playing and sustained injuries to her left leg.

As the father Denis Oroto narrates, Ataro’s accident caused his daughter so much pain.

“Her left leg was burnt by the fire causing it to curve to a certain extent. She couldn’t move or shower herself. The mother had to feed and shower her,” he recounts.

But it was not only the physical turmoil that foiled the family. Ataro’s accident also took a toll on the father’s finances.

Oroto has spent nearly Ushs500,000 in an effort to treat the daughter and have her leg restored to normal.

However, his effort was all in vain as the health centres in Kaberamaido were unable to treat Ataro despite multiple trials.

It was not until Pius Ekiro, a community mobiliser in the town, notified Oroto of a hospital in Entebbe that could treat his daughter and the transport was catered for.

“Pius Ekiro told me about Corsu and told me they were also providing transport to and from the hospital in Entebbe,” he says.

On arrival, the young girl was given medical care at no cost.

Around the same time at the same hospital in Entebbe was a young Vivian Achola wrapped in the arms of her uncle, 26 year old Alex Owume.

Unlike Ataro, Achola could walk albeit with a limitation. Achola had had rickets for all her life.

The young orphaned girl who spent the majority of the  time living with her grandfather was at the hospital to correct the disability.

Her surgery was also to be done for free.

Doreen Ataro and Vivian Achola were one of the lucky beneficiaries under the MTN Uganda partnership with Corsu rehabilitation hospital.

During the one year partnership, MTN Uganda sponsored corrective surgery for over 80 children and youth worth about Ushs 184million.

Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda chief executive officer says “MTN prides itself in improving the lives of Ugandans. Children and youth are the bedrock of society since they not only bring joy to our lives but also make up a big fraction of the productive economy.”

According to Oroto, his daughter now walks, runs and even plays.

“Before bringing her to Corsu hospital, she couldn’t walk. But now, Ataro can run and play. In fact, now the mother doesn’t need to take care of her like before,” he testifies.

Denis Oroto who practices agriculture to make ends meet says that the wife, Sarah Aponye can now help him at the farm since she is no longer preoccupied with taking care of their daughter.

“Now the mother comes to dig and help me at the farm because Ataro stays playing with her friends,” he says.

Meanwhile, Achola’s uncle,Owume, a resident of Aduku Town in Kwania district has now shifted concern from his ten year old niece’s health to her education as the former is now a problem of the past.

“She is now walking very well. She is now okay and we want her to start school so we are searching for funds to take her to school,” he notes.

He appreciated MTN for its effort in ensuring his niece’s life was back to normal.

Established in 2009, CoRSU is a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization in Uganda mandated to mitigate disability and provide rehabilitative services.

How MTN refurbished Kamukira health centre IV came to the rescue during lockdown

It’s been over a year since the emergence of covid-19 in Uganda which tested the fortitude of many of the country’s structures, the health sector the most.

Around the steep slopes and hills of Kabale district, news of the virus outbreak broke at Kabale regional referral hospital.

According to ministry of health, Kabale Regional Referral Hospital is a 280 bed hospital located in Kabale Municipality in Southwestern Uganda, approximately 426 Kilometers from Kampala.

The hospital serves a population of about 2 million people in the districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Kanungu and some parts of Ntungamo as well as people from neighboring countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But for two weeks, the very important and strategic referral hospital was closed off to other patients due to the news of the covid-19 outbreak at the facility.

Patients with other diseases were forced to look for alternatives in the town for survival.

A few kilometres away from the referral hospital sits Kamukira health centre IV, a once incomplete deserted building blossomed into a storied building canopied by red iron sheets.

It was in Kamukira health centre IV that the stranded patients found solace. Kamukira health center IV serves a catchment population of 8,778 but receives about 4000 patients both in and outpatients on a monthly basis.

The hospital according to the facility in charge had to step up and take up majority of the patients suffering from other diseases which it handled successfully thanks to its structure and facilities.

Inpatient admissions

The story would have been different back in 2016 when Kamukira did not have the ability to admit patients, with the exception of the maternity ward.

Most in-patients used to be referred to other facilities.

“Patients used to fear since the facility did not have the capacity to admit,” Paddy Mwesigye, the facility in-charge narrated.

A new dawn

However, in 2019, MTN through the MTN Foundation funded the completion of outstanding building works, electricity installations, plumbing installations and finishing.

According to Mwesigye, the completion of the main in-patient structure by MTN Uganda Foundation has solved issues of low turn-up and enabled them treat and admit patients during the lockdown.

Because of the presence of an inpatient structure, there is now an increase in inpatient admissions which has led to reduced decongestion of Kabale regional referral hospital.

Surgery

MTN also went on to acquire a generator, beddings including: 20 mattresses, 20 metallic beds, 20 mosquito nets and 20 Blankets which have enabled the health centre carry out operations in the theatre.

“The wards did not have a water system in place. MTN Uganda Foundation put flashing water in all those toilets and wash facilities,” he further explains.

The community in Kabale district lauds MTN and is “very appreciative and beyond grateful” as they are enjoying a neat and conducive environment at the hospital.