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Medics Eulogize Colleague Who Survived Kidney Transplant and Succumbed to COVID-19

At the time of his death, Musiitwa who is survived by a wife and three children had become the District Health Officer (DHO) Kibowa but was also actively involved in care at Kiboga General Hospital where he was once medical superintendent and is thought to have been infected from.
Dr. Musiitwa

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Dr Micheal Musiitwa Mugwanya, the first medic to succumb to COVID-19 in Kiboga district, has been eulogised as a person who turned around healthcare in the rural district of Kiboga. The Medic who developed symptoms of COVID-19 and ended in Intensive Care at Mulago National Referral Hospital two weeks ago was laid to rest in Kalagala Gayaza, on Thursday.

Dr Roy Mayega, a researcher based at the Makerere University School of Public Health says they worked together around the time the health sector was restructuring and decentralizing care.

“He was the person who immediately succeeded me at Bukomero Health Center IV in Kiboga District. I worked in Kiboga District as a Medical Officer from 1999 to 2005. When I left, he took over. At the time, the district was extremely rural”, he says, adding that at the time, there was no mobile phone network and one could send an SMS at only at a specific point, at an anthill in the bushes overlying Bukomero Health Centre and a specific time that had to be 8 pm.  

At that time the doctor recalls, they worked with budgets of 250,000 Shillings for a health centre II,  750,000 Shillings for a Health Centre III and four million Shillings for Health Centre IV for every four months. This was also around the same time that user fees were abolished in government hospitals. 

At the time of his death, Musiitwa who is survived by a wife and three children had become the District Health Officer (DHO) of Kiboga but was also actively involved in care at Kiboga General Hospital where he was once a medical superintendent.

Although he wasn’t deployed to treat people infected with COVID-19, Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, the Secretary-General of the Uganda Medical Association says such medics should be considered as those that die at the frontline.

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He said it’s high time the government started protecting all health workers irrespective of where they work because they are at very high risk pointing out that research shows more health workers that don’t work in the COVID-19 wards contract the disease because their counterparts are more conscious about infection and are fully protected.

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According to Ministry of Health figures, over 900 health workers have been infected whereby 10 had succumbed by the end of November. Musiitwa also survived a Kidney transplant undertaken over 10 years ago and went back to Kiboga and resumed his duties.

“A few years ago when we raised funds for his kidney transplant it was really nice to see him up and about again. He served diligently as the DHO of Kiboga”, said Dr Sabrina Kitaka, a consultant paediatrician at Mulago hospital.