PAKWACH. Former Students of Makerere University College of public health have called upon the government of Uganda to honour the legacy of Prof Virgino Lachana Ongom for his outstanding contributions in the fight against Bilharzia in Uganda.
While touring Pakwach health centre IV, the second deputy Prime Minister, Mr Kirunda Kivejinja and former students of Delhi University in India said government should consider holding an annual lecture not only at Makerere University where Ongom was a lecturer but also in his native Pakwach district to remind the young generation of his national contributions.
The district council in a narrow majority in May this year passed a resolution that sought to rename the government health facility to ‘Prof V L Ongom memorial hospital Pakwach’ for his outstanding contribution in the fight against bilharzia by discovering its drugs.
In a letter dated 22nd of June 2018 addressed to Mr Steen Omito, the Pakwach district chairman, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health said the ministry does not encourage renaming public health facilities since the current names are already embedded in the ministry of Finance, Planning and Development budget.
“It is also established in the national medical stores master list for supply of essential Medicines and Health supplies,” the letter reads in part.
It continues “the ministry thus advises that the above request is not feasible. The district can however name one of the wards in the facility to Prof V L Ongom. This is the acceptable practice Worldwide”, the letter, also copied to all junior health ministers read in part.
Ongom is being remembered for discovering Schistomiasis drugs, which is used in the treatment of Bilharzia.
"I have come here to celebrate and stamp the precious problem solving potential of our own son, the late Ongom who is worth celebrating," Kirunda said.
Mr Kintu Musoke, the former Prime Minister and also a member of alumni tasked government to build a centre for tropical disease control in Pakwach district which he said will attract friends of the late doctor both from the diaspora and within.
"When this is done, it will be easy for the government to supplement on late Ongom’s efforts and for us as old friends, that will be an honour," Kintu noted.
He maintained that renaming a health centre will not ultimately solve the needs of the community towards uplifting Ongom’s legacy arguing that building a well stoked hospital with drugs and expatriate is in line with the late’s unfinished mission.
Professor Posiano Ocama of Makerere University College of public health said they intend to raise money to aid any willing son of the soil to pursue a PHD in medicine that will help in narrowing the staff gap particularly in the field of Bilharzia fight.
Dr Adoki Ayeka also a staff of the same Institution said they are already teaming up with other professional doctors to have the annual lecture held in Pakwach whereby vigorous assessment can be done to ascertain their set missions in eradicating Bilharzia and other tropical neglected diseases that are still common in Uganda.
Ms Jessica Draru, the Pakwach district health officer said the district is still grappling with many cases of Bilharzia with an estimate of 5000cases being registered annually.
"Our people still drink and bath from River Nile and this has made cases of Bilharzia so common in the district," Draru said.
The State Minister for Northern Uganda, Ms Grace Kwiyucwiny Freedom said she will write a comprehensive report and present it to the relevant authority to have the proposed annual lecture in the memory of Ongom in Pakwach district be approved.
Ongom succumbed to stroke at the age of 47 in 1980.