Over 200 residents of Migyera, dressed in their finest, took seats under two large tents shadingthem from the afternoon sun to witness the formal dedication of their new St. Francis Health Center in Migyera, Uganda on Wednesday, July 4.
Under a third tent sat dignitaries from state and regional governments, Bishop of Kasana-LuweeroPaul S. Semogerere, ChangeALife Uganda's Rev. Lawrence Kitzito Kimbowa, guests, and members of the U.S. ChangeALife Uganda team. Speakers, including a representative of the local towns people, praised and thanked the commitment and generosity of their "American friends" who helped to complete construction of the clinic and provide funds to equip and staff it. The newly improved clinic now provides infant and family wellness care, and soon,maternal health services. The clinic staff treated 300 patients on opening day.
Speaking on behalf of CALU and its many supporters in New Jersey, President Jean Semler said,"We are honored to have the opportunity to work with the people of Migyera to improve the quality of care you receive. We came today to celebrate with you the opening of the new St. Francis Health Center, and also to see what else is needed to enable the clinic staff to provide more comprehensive health care services. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with you and the staff to make this a premier health center."
The festive celebration included a medley of lively native dances by the children of St.Lawrence School and a buffet dinner for attendees. The CALU Team included President Semler, Vice President David Thelen, Health Care team Karen Hinckley,MBA, Susan Peacock, R.N., Evelyn Wells, M.D. and Lito Fune, M.D., both ofJersey Shore Medical Center, and Rosemary Carroll, member of the CALU Board of Directors.
Drs. Wells and Fune worked a full day treating patients alongside clinic Medical Director Dr.Ronald Lubega. Early laboratory tests of 98 patients revealed 20 cases of malaria and 10 of typhoid. Of 198 patients tested for HIV, 15 were HIV+ including two children. Since then, the number has grown to 86 HIV+ patients and other serious health problems have been identified.
Friends of CALU were inspired to provide the funds needed for the clinic after the unnecessaryand tragic death last year of Christopher Bakwana, a child who contracted malaria, a preventable and treatable disease. The boy did not have access to a nearby clinic. "Now children in Migyera will have access to quality healthcare," said Jean Semler. "Our wonderful new facility is here to prevent deaths of other children from malaria."
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