Big plans as Busoga Health Forum holds annual general meeting
By Elizabeth Namara
Busoga Health Forum on April 2, 2022, held its first annual general meeting at the Jinja City Hall.
In attendance of the meeting on site and online were local government leaders, BHF Board of Directors and technical working groups, representatives of government agencies, development partners, implementing partners, religious and cultural leaders, service beneficiary founder members, subscriber members, clients and staff of BHF.
Having started in 2020 as a WhatsApp group, Busoga Health Forum developed to become a registered organization and was officially launched in 2021.
The vision of the organization is “People in Busoga living healthier, productive, and more fulfilled lives.”
In his welcome remarks, the Chairperson, Board of Directors, Prof. Peter Waiswa noted the impact Busoga Health Forum has already had despite having been started in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is unbelievable that we are just this old or young because BHF has grown so much and is in the eyes of so many people around the world, and is already beginning to impact lives,” he said. “I consider these first few years to be our formative years as we prepare to have an impact not only on Busoga but Uganda at large.”
The uniqueness of BHF is in its compelling attribute as a membership organization that drives individuals, families, communities, and institutions to become agents of change in ensuring that people in Busoga are ‘living healthier, productive and more fulfilled lives.’
It’s important to note that BHF is aiming even higher in prioritizing Busoga through advocating for the realization of the planned upgrading of Iganga Hospital to a regional referral hospital, rebuilding Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, and upgrading Nalufenya Children’s Hospital to a National Children’s Hospital.,
BHF is also advocating for the establishment of a blood bank in the Busoga sub-region, the development of a Busoga rethink malaria strategy, and the development of a Busoga Regional Adolescent Health Multisectoral Strategy.
Development of a Busoga regional community health security strategy, a Busoga regional internship/fellowship strategy, advancement of a Busoga Medical School concept, and a Busoga business arm –in partnership with Ross School of Business, University of Michigan is also part of the BHF agenda.
Members requested the organization to include having a Busoga statistics database and to focus on a holistic approach to getting different institutions involved in terms of commitment.
Dr. Betty Kamira, challenged the members in attendance to include community initiatives on the agenda other than focusing on institutional initiatives only.
Dr. Sarah Byakika, Commissioner in Charge of Planning, Financing, and Policy at the Ministry of Health confirmed that the desire and need for Iganga Hospital to be upgraded to a regional hospital is ‘a well-known priority’ on the Ministry of Health agenda awaiting the securing of funds.
Dr. Andrew Balyeku, the Minister of Health for the Obwakyabazinga Bwa Busoga expressed the need for a grass-roots approach to service delivery. “Let’s go down to our villages. We need to have images that the young people in our villages can look up to.”
Former Vice President, Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe advised the members to not only focus on health but also on the economic and social aspects of the people. “Moving forward we have to be sure whether we want to patronize the advocacy space, the policy space, the skilling space, or the services space. All these are the things we must decide on. Are we going to do it ourselves? Are we going to partner with other people to do it? Then we will know what BHF in the medium term is going to be known for because right now we are still identifying the partners, the skilling, and the capacity we have,” she added.
Dr. Speciosa further encouraged the members to contribute to the forum as a way of showing their love for Busoga and this initiative as well as facilitating the people who do the work with the little they have.”
In his final remarks, the Guest Speaker Prof. Waswa Balunywa who is also the patron of the Forum re-echoed the need for a medical school in the region and the impact it would have on the region. He said that the medical school will attract researchers in different specialties, thus causing specialists and consultants to come to the region which would in turn positively impact the region’s health outcomes.
Prof. Balunywa also emphasized the need for the forum to start operating as a business in order to minimize depending on unsustainable members and outside donations.