Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) is set to receive phased funding worth USD 11 million over the next five years, from Boston, U.S to improve on community health in southwestern region.
This was revealed Thursday during the first Annual Community Health Research conference held at Hotel Triangle in Mbarara.
According to Moses Ntaro, the Assistant Programs Director, the project is funded by Wyss Medical Foundation in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA.
The community health project is hosted under the Global Health collaborative that oversees projects which will be run in collaboration with MUST.
The 5-year project has an overall funding estimate of about USD 11 million (Shs 41bn).
“We were given starting funding to a tune of about USD 2 million. The program is for 5 years, so funding for the subsequent years will be based on what we will have achieved,” Ntaro explained.
The project covers the first mile community health program, nursing section, community health research grants for postgraduate students and innovations under CAMTech where students recently manufactured an incubator for Mbarara regional referral hospital (MRRH).
“So far, we have already rejuvenated blood transfusion in Kabuyanda H/C IV, revitalized ophthalmology clinic in Rukunyu H/C IV and offering specialized emergency surgical procedures,” said Ntaro.
Speaking at the conference, MUST Vice Chancellor Prof Celestine Obua implored the staff to put the given funds to the intended purpose.
“Dr Steve Schwarz, one of the funder representatives is coming here in May to look at the projects. Work is going to be evaluated because he wants to come and see on ground what has been happening. He has insisted to visit various sites not just a report that we write and send to him,” said Prof Celestine.
He said the assessment which will be done will determine the subsequent value of money to be given to complete the 5-year project.
Prof Obua added that the congestion in hospitals in the country is caused by the failure by community health facilities to address lifestyle diseases like cancer and diabetes.
“We should concern ourselves with what happens to our communities. If we can improve health in the community, hospitals will be decongested, wards will also be less crowded.”
“Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital was set up to accommodate about 400 patients, but now there are over 1,000 patients, some sleeping on top of the others,” the VC added.
The Director clinical services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Olaro Charles encouraged Mbarara University to engage more in community dialogues to address community health issues.
“If we look at village health teams and other co-health affidavits in those areas, then we can be able to address health challenges. But if we don’t do that and look at this other part of health prevention and promotion then we can continue mopping the floor which it is not right,” Dr Olaro said.