November 2, 2016. After four months of discussion, evaluation, and analysis, Bulamu Healthcare has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a joint venture with the government-operated Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) for the purpose of opening an outpatient cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment center at the hospital. Bulamu will provide much needed medical equipment for the clinic, will pay for rehabilitating the space that the hospital is making available for this purpose, and will share in the clinic staffing costs. The clinic will be named in Bulamu’s honor.
Bulamu’s investment in this facility was made possible by a major donor, whose gift will finance the capital expenditure to get the building ready and also the first two years of operating expenses. Critical to the negotiation of the joint venture terms was Dr. Joseph Bottino, without whose tireless efforts it would not have happened. “Dr. Joe,” as he is known by students and colleagues at Mbarara, was born, raised, and educated in New York City. After many years as a successful oncologist in New York, he became a volunteer with the Global Health Partnership, part of the U.S. Peace Corps operations in Uganda, and was assigned to work at the Mbarara Hospital.
Mbarara University, a public institution opened in 1989, is one of eight degree-awarding Universities in Uganda and has just over 3,000 students. The medical school at Mbarara, one of four in Uganda, operates in conjunction with the Mbarara Referral Hospital. The hospital has a 600-bed capacity, but many more patients are admitted, with the overflow sleeping on bedding on the floor. There is also an acute shortage of functioning medical equipment. Public hospital care is free in Uganda, but the country lacks the resources to adequately deal with patient demand and the seriousness of the diseases it faces. There are seven other regional referral hospitals in Uganda. Associate Professor Samuel Mailing is the current Dean of the Medical School, and was directly involved in setting the priorities of the joint venture. He will play an important role in making the joint venture work to the benefit of all parties.