BHF: A think-tank for best health promotion in Busoga
By Claire Zerida Balungi
A fervent child grows to recognize and give back to the hands that scratched the earth to feed him/her. There is usually more love shared and smiles of hope when such hands are dressed instead of being left to rot.
Such is the inspiration that the founders of Busoga Health Forum had in mind when they birthed the idea of coming up with a body that can breathe life into Busoga’s hitherto ailing health condition. Starting as a mere mailing list and WhatsApp group to now a fully-fledged health ideas tank, the forum is in line with Kyabazinga Gabula Nadiope’s wish to have a medical school in Busoga sub-region to alleviate the dire health condition of his subjects.
It is also a subtle remedy to a host of challenges the region is battling, poor health being one of them and the forum aims at ensuring a healthy thriving Busoga.
The Forum comprises health practitioners, not limited to medical doctors, with a dear attachment to Busoga sub-region, who came together to offer advice and support on health service delivery.
The Forum convened its first meeting in Kampala in October 2019 after a WhatsApp mobilization drive that brought together a host of health professionals with a cordial tie to Busoga sub-region.
The meeting was sponsored by Ms Prima Kwagala’s Women’s Probono Initiative and as part of the deliberations, members resolved to call the platform, Busoga Health Forum. The meeting also clearly defined the forum’s mandate which encompassed the members’ need to belong, keeping it “Busoga.”
The Forum is fully registered with the Ministry of Health and launched its operations on November 21, 2020 with research into the early impact of Covid-19. It has since shot for the skies with several projects.
The Forum’s CEO Moses Kyangwa said the forum has a well-thought out sustainability plan that includes setting up pharmaceutical-related enterprises within and outside Busoga sub-region.
“We plan to ensure constant flow of income as we target the East African market,” Kyangwa said.
He added that members support the forum with health-related research, explain health phenomenon and offer advice on how to harness the available health resources to transform the region.
“Busoga Health Forum is currently writing the concept for a medical school at Busoga University which will be linked with the manufacturing industries and other healthcare providing partners to make sure high-profile services like major surgeries are availed to the wananchi at a subsidized cost,” Kyangwa said.
A healthy thriving Busoga
The forum’s tagline is drawn from the interest to address Busoga’s most pressing health needs like the high mortality rate, sexual reproductive challenges such as high teenage pregnancy rate and a high disease burden.
The poor health condition compromises production and takes a toll on people’s mental health. Research also indicated that the region suffers immensely from malnutrition as a result of the people neglecting growing food crops affected by weather changes in favour of sugarcane which promises constant but peanut sales.
“The goal of the forum is to work closely with the Ministry of Health to advocate for proper health structures, advocate for a blood bank for the region to reduce deaths by anemia and fast-track the socio-economic development of Busoga sub-region,” Kyangwa said.
The forum’s flagship program is the Urban Thrive Project which aims at reducing the unmet need of family planning. In addition to training health workers on best family planning delivery, mobilizing and sensitizing those who use family planning about the ever-so neglected side effects, the forum challenges itself with the role of uniting organizations doing health-related work to ease service delivery with mobilized resources which become easily accessible. It also advises on recruitment of District Health Officers (DHOs) and eases access to health experts.
Furthermore, in a move aimed at reducing the burden of unmet demand for Ear Nose & Throat (E.N.T) healthcare in Busoga, Dr Fred Bisso, an E.N.T Specialist and Senior Consultant working in partnership with Busoga Health Forum, offers pro bono services at Kyabirwa Surgical Centre in Bujagali and Mafubira Health Centre Two every last Friday and Saturday of the month.
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” The forum owes its spirit of unity and work to the quote. All the eleven sub-regions are represented and the forum takes advantage of the elite’s local and international connection to promote growth of the sub-region. Everyone does what they can in their capacity. “Agalya awalala n’agaluma enyama.”