The Ministry of Health has partnered with the Kingdom of Tooro by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will last five years to promote health within the region. The signing took place at the prestigious King’s palace situated at the top of Kabarole Hill in Fort Portal City and was witnessed by the King, himself, His Majesty King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru.
While addressing the delegation at the palace, the Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine lauded the King for prioritizing and promoting health in the region. “Cultural leaders in Uganda are well-respected and in Tooro particularly, Omukama Oyo has a passion for health. As a UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, he will help us sensitize the people of Tooro about HIV because Kabarole is high at 10% compared to the national average of 6.1%” she said.
The MoU is intended to increase sensitization, mass awareness and adoption of healthy behaviours and lifestyle changes to end HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies, enhance maternal and child health, advocate men to adopt better health practices among others. “The Kingdom has elaborate structures which can help us in communicating to the last household in the region to reduce the disease burden in the region” Dr Atwine said. She further attested that the structures will also be used to sensitize women to not just attend one Antenatal Care (ANC) visit but ensure that they complete all four ANC visits, a parameter aids in reducing maternal deaths.
The signing of the MOU comes at a time when health indicators in the region are not that great. For instance, teenage pregnancies stands at 28%, higher than the national average of 25%, immunization coverage stands at 51% while the prevalence of Malaria in the region stands at 5%. Dr Atwine further commended the Kingdom for its generosity and partnership to the health sector adding that the Tooro Kingdom has offered part of its land for the construction of a children’s specialized hospital in Kyenjojo District.
King Oyo welcomed the partnership with the health sector adding that the signing of this MOU will enable the people access health services and make informed decisions about their lives. He alluded that there is great need for men to embrace regular medical checks to ascertain their health status. “Whereas women have better health seeking behavior, some men do not know their health status because they do not go for medical check-ups and that is dangerous. We need to use our structures to encourage them to for check-ups” he said.
The Director General Health Services, Dr Henry G. Mwebesa appreciated the Kingdom for supporting a number of health projects in the region and underscored the importance of cultural and religious leaders in encouraging their subjects to adopt good health seeking behavior. “This partnership will strengthen the relationship between the health sector and the Kingdom to further improve health service delivery for the people of Tooro” he noted.
The Ministry of Health team led by the Permanent Secretary also held a meeting with the Queen Mother of the King of Tooro, Her Royal Highness, Best Kemigisa to further strengthen the partnership to address teenage pregnancies, maternal and child health in the region. The Ministry is engaging the various cultural institutions across the country to strengthen health service delivery and improve health outcomes as part of its strategy to reduce the burden of preventable diseases in the country.
The signing of the partnership comes on the heels of the ministry of health campaign to ensure that majority of Ugandan citizens are protected from contracting malaria through the ‘under the net’ campaign.