Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II celebrated his 59th birthday on Sunday, with a rural party and two remarkable donations to the maternity ward at the ailing Gombe hospital.
The Kabaka donated mosquito nets, an incubator machine and an operating table worth about Shs 10m. The hospital is located in the recently-created Butambala district, some 75km south of Kampala. It is one of 22 government hospitals built by the first Milton Obote government in the 1960s.
It stands commandingly in Gombe town council’s unplanned neighbourhood. Ordinarily, it would be a source of pride for people here. But now it connotes misery because it is literally “sick.”
Since its construction, it has not received any major repairs. The coat of paint on its walls is steadily peeling off and ceiling boards are caving in.
“The roof itself leaks, and when it starts raining, we have to move the patients [so] that they don’t get soaked,” said one nurse, who declined to be named.
Once you are at the hospital, you have to pray that the call of nature does not force you to visit the sickening toilets. As the hospital prepared to receive the Kabaka, the toilets got a thorough cleaning, but it was not enough to remove the filth and stench from the broken water and sewerage system.
And it’s not that doctors are sleeping. Last November the hospital medical director, Dr Haruna Lule, received the Global health workforce alliance (GHWA) award for developing an alcohol-based solution for use at the hospital to deal with infections associated with poor hygiene.
Despite its 100-bed capacity, the hospital receives an average of 150 patients every day – from Butambala and neighbouring districts of Mityana, Mpigi, Gomba and Sembabule. A walk through is enough to tell you that the hospital lacks many facilities and equipment.
“The challenges are obvious the hospital is simply sick as it appears,” said Dr Joseph Mbuga, one of five medical officers here.
The hospital has only 55 per cent of the staff it needs.
“I have [previously] said that that hospital will cost President Museveni dearly if we go into the 2016 elections if it remains in that state,” Butambala MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi told The Observer in an interview.
At least Shs $7.9m (Shs 19.7bn) is required to rehabilitate this rundown hospital.
After his brief visit to the hospital, the Kabaka was ushered into Gombe Secondary School, a few metres away from the hospital. Despite sharing a fence, the appearances of these two government institutions sharply contrast.
The hospital opened about 14 years after the late Buganda king Sir Edward Mutesa II commissioned Gombe SS in 1955 the same year Kabaka Mutebi was born. A mahogany tree that Mutesa planted at the school’s opening 59 years ago still stands tall in front of the main gate.
By choosing to celebrate his 59th birthday at Gombe, palace officials said, Mutebi was retracing his father’s footsteps. Mutebi laid a foundation stone for the construction of a girls’ dormitory, named after his mother Sarah Katrina Kisosonkole, and joined the school in planting 59 trees.
The Kabaka’s birthday party was preceded by Duwah prayers led by Supreme Mufti Sheikh Zubair Sowedi Kayongo who took the opportunity to slam government’s proposed patriotism bill.
“The love of one’s nation is inherent because by creation, God teaches us how to love or hate our leaders. The Kabaka and the kingdom remain a darling among the majority of the people of Buganda it comes naturally, not by coercion,” Sheikh Kayongo said amid ululation.
In a veiled reference to last year’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the central government and the kingdom, Kayongo warned Buganda leaders to be mindful of deceitful individuals in government, who may use the MOU to bring down the kingdom.
“We need to be careful about our allies. For this country to move forward, it needs just and honest leaders. Deceitful leaders are going to cause problems to this country,” Kayongo said, making reference to a proverbial fox that turned against its master.
The Kabaka’s message was mainly to the youths, whom he urged to toil for their later years.
“I want to give a reminder to the youths that what you want to be in the future must start today you must work for your nation, be respectful of yourselves and others,” the Kabaka said.
Source : The Observer