KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
On Friday, March 22, 2013 – KIHEFO welcomed to Kabale a group of four professors, lecturers and administrators from the Faculty of Health & Medicine, Mbarara University of Science & Technology. The goal of the visit from Mbarara University was to explore the potential for a mutually beneficial partnership between KIHEFO and the University, and discuss ways the two institutions could both learn from and work with one another.
Dr. Santorino Data, a lecturer in the Department of Pediatrics, had first been exposed to KIHEFO’s unique approach to healthcare delivery when he visited the Kigezi region in 2011. Impressed with KIHEFO’s grassroots work, Dr. Santorino Data encouraged Mbarara University to consider partnering with the organization through utilizing KIHEFO as a placement and research site for their health and medical students.
The official visit from Mbarara University opened at KIHEFO’s Nutrition & Rehabilitation Centre in Kabale town-centre, with roundtable introductions from KIHEFO and the University’s teams, and discussion on motivations for partnership.
“Mbarara University was founded on the principles of community based research and learning,” explained Dr. Santorino Data. “We’re looking for committed partners at the community level with the goal for our students to learn in practical settings, conduct research in community, and provide services to populations in need.”
Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo, Executive Director of KIHEFO, provided the guests from Mbarara University with an overview of KIHEFO’s philosophy and activities, highlighting how university students could learn from multiple facets of the organization, including: working at the General Clinic and AIDS Clinic in Kigongi, Kabale, along with participation in rural outreach camps to conduct nutrition screening, HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, and ultrasound screenings for pregnant women.
Dr. Anguyo explained how KIHEFO’s strong relationships with rural community groups, leaders, healers and people would provide students from Mbarara University with first-hand experiences in community outreach and healthcare delivery.
KIHEFO has already seen positive results partnering with the Kabale Institute of Health Sciences, whereby over 100 nursing students have gained practical learning experiences at a series of medical and dental camps in February and March of 2013.
“If you build on culture – you will be successful,” Dr. Anguyo exclaimed, as Dr. Santorino Data and his colleagues nodded their heads in agreement.
The exciting discussion with guests from Mbarara University was followed by a tour of KIHEFO’s healthcare facilities in Kabale town-centre, including visits to the future Maternal & Child Health Facility in Kirigime (scheduled to open in 2014), and KIHEFO’s apartments for visiting volunteers, students and guests.
By the end of the day-long tour, the sentiment was mutual – it was no longer a question of if KIHEFO and Mbarara University would partner, rather when they would begin formalizing the unique community partnership that would be mutually beneficial by building Ugandan health students’ capacity and strengthening KIHEFOrural communities throughout the Kigezi region.
Please stay tuned to KIHEFO’s blog for future updates on this unique partnership between KIHEFO and Mbarara University, and visit our website for more information on how you can also become involved – click here.