Busitema University has received a grant worth $398,850 (about Shs1.2b) from the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (Mepi) and the National Institute of Health to establish a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at its Mbale campus.

The university vice chancellor, Prof. Mary Okwakol, acknowledged receipt of the grant and expressed appreciation to the donors.

“Busitema University is participating in the Medical Education Partnership Initiative whose objective is to increase the number of doctors being trained in Uganda,” Prof. Okwakol said in an interview on Wednesday.

During the university’s second graduation ceremony last week, Prof. Okwakol said the initiative is being led by Makerere University College of Health Sciences and the medical schools of Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Gulu University and Kampala International University.

The Mbale campus programmes will include bachelors of Medicine, Surgery and Nursing.

“These programmes are unique in the sense that they are competence-based and meant to produce doctors and nurses, who will appreciate working in rural settings,” he said.

Prof. Okwakol appealed to the Minister of Education to consider supporting the project. “It is for the good of Ugandans and it is hoped that it will alleviate the current acute shortage of health workers in the country,” he said last week in his message to Education minister Jessica Alupo.

More support
Prof. Okwakol also said the Faculty of Science had received support from Tropical Biology Association to undertake research on the endemic Aloe tororoana herbal plant in collaboration with the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU).

The university chancellor, Prof. Francis Omaswa, decried the challenges the university faces, saying though working with limited resources, it has managed to produce practical and critical graduates.

“The university at this infancy stage is still in dire need of support, especially from government so that we take full advantage of the opportunities that exist, address the challenges and contribute more effectively to the development of our country,” Prof. Omaswa said.

A senior medic himself, Prof. Omaswa said global health workforce shortfall today stands at 4 million and that Africa is hard-hit with 24 per cent of the world’s disease burden, but with only 3 per cent of the global health workforce pool.
“It is therefore, our appeal to the government that the university be given all the necessary support in its initiative of establishing the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at its Mbale campus to boost the health workforce in the country,” he said.

Lt. (Rtd) Alupo said the ministry, in partnership with the African Development Bank, is finalising a project formulation to rehabilitate and expand infrastructure, equipment and staffing of all public universities.