Baylor College of Medicine
Children’s Foundation - Uganda

Baylor Foundation Uganda Joins the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda on His Visit to the Rwenzori Region to See the Impact of USG Health Investments

On February 28, 2024, Baylor Foundation Uganda (BFU), welcomed H.E. William Popp, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda on his debut visit to the Rwenzori region to see the impact of U.S. government health investments in the communities. Baylor Foundation Uganda is currently the comprehensive HIV PEPFAR implementing partner of the U.S. government in the region that includes Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Bunyangabu, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge, Kitagwenda, Ntoroko districts and Fort Portal City. More recently, Baylor Foundation Ugandaexpanded its scope to include the Fort Portal-Mubende region that encompasses the districts of Mubende, Nakaseke, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Kassanda and Mityana, under the CDC-funded Fort Portal-Mubende mechanism. The mechanism aims to accelerate and sustain HIV epidemic control and in collaboration with the Global Health Security program, strengthen border health and disease outbreak response efforts.

For the past 12 years, Baylor Foundation Uganda has received USG funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—PEPFAR through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to implement comprehensive HIV/TB plus maternal and child health services in the Rwenzori region including at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital (RRH) that the Ambassador also visited.

At Fort Portal RRH, Amb. Popp visited the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that was renovated and equipped with U.S.G support in 2013 under the Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) project, a USG funded project to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes. He also visited the Public Health emergency Operations Center that is enhancing surveillance for public health threats and emergencies in the region. He was briefed about USG-supported border health activities that are being implemented through active screening and cross border surveillance to quickly detect, respond and contain disease outbreaks within the region given the high cross border interactions.

While interacting with the ART clinic team at the hospital, he emphasized the importance of people testing for HIV/AIDS to know their status. “We want people to get tested for HIV/AIDS to know their status, and these are things that the U.S. government has supported and is supporting with funding from the U.S. PEPFAR program,” he said—adding that those who test positive for HIV and enroll on treatment, experience suppressed viral loads making it unlikely for them to transmit the virus to others. Last year, over 7,500 HIV positive individuals in the Rwenzori region alone were started on antiretroviral treatment. Over 70,000 patients in the area are currently receiving treatment, and 95% of them have attained viral load suppression.

Accompanied by Baylor Uganda Executive Director Dr. Dithan Kiragga—and Baylor Foundation Uganda technical staff; Amb. Popp also visited Bundibugyo Hospital whose laboratory was refurbished and equipped by Baylor Foundation Uganda in 2018 with USG funding. The laboratory has since received SANAS accreditation. Here, he observed integrated laboratory services central to the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases including HIV/TB and outbreaks. He saw how USG support through PEPFAR has enabled the facility to provide accessible and high-quality laboratory services that meet international standards albeit in a remote rural setting. Patients at peripheral sites including hard-to-reach and underserved communities can access this service through a motorbike rider system keeping turnaround time to a minimum.

Ambassador Popp meets some of the beneficiaries of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) services at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital. The NICU (NICU) was renovated and equipped by Baylor Foundation Uganda with U.S.G support in 2013 under the Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) project. (Photo by Charles Opolot)

Dr. Kiragga accompanied Amb. Popp and his entourage to visit the hospital’s Ebola Memorial Cemetery, where the 2007 Bundibugyo Ebola victims (Health Staff) are laid to rest—and paid pay tribute to the fallen heroes.

Dr. Dithan Kiragga, the Executive Director of Baylor Foundation Uganda appreciated the generosity of the American people. “As an implementing partner, Baylor Foundation Uganda appreciates the continued support from the American people, which over the years has saved lives and improved health for many families.,” said Dr. Kiragga.

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