A Karamoja hospital that saved warriors, soldiers

Matany Hospital is an institution that deserves special mention and recognition for its role in restoring peace in Karamoja region.

In 2001, when the disarmament of cattle rustlers was underway, fighting broke out between Government troops and Karimojong warriors who wanted to cling to their weapons.

Warriors and UPDF soldiers died in the ensuing fighting, with hundreds injured and rushed to Matany, which was the only hospital in the area.

An average of 30 wounded Karimojong warriors and UPDF soldiers were taken to Matany by relatives on daily basis by the Uganda Red Cross Society or the army.

John Lomuria one of the warriors who were shot and injured recalls being rushed to Matany by Uganda Red Cross Society.

Matany hospital is located in Napak district in Karamoja sub region. It is Catholic-founded, built in 1966 to serve the region which lacked health facilities at the time. The hospital was funded by the Italian non-governmental organization called CUAMM (Doctors with Africa).

The unit had operated as a dispensary in 1970, managed by Comboni Sisters. At the time of its expansion into a hospital, it had 220 beds.

In 1984, a nursing school was established. In 1985, Primary Health Care (PHC) programmes were introduced in Bokara County in present-day Napak district.

Today, Matany hospital is a referral centre for the seven districts in Karamoja sub-region.

The hospital has several wards and services including; outpatient department, surgical, medical, paediatric and TB wards. It offers services that include antenatal, laboratory, X-ray, ultrasound scan, dental care and physiotherapy among others.

At the height of the disarmament programme, Brother Nahrich the hospital administrator recalls: “We treated all the wounded people equally in tandem with our motto: “We dress the wounds and God heals.”

Apart from saving the lives of the wounded warriors and soldiers, Matany also united the rivalling Karimojong and Itesot communities. When the Karimojong raided cattle in Teso region between 1985 and 1989, killing and looting, no one fathomed the two communities would reconcile at one time.

The Itesots had no guns and they could not defend themselves against the armed Karimojong. The Iteso fled in fear, leaving behind their herds. A bitter rivalry began between the two communities.

But Joseph Lomonyang the district chairperson of Napak said Matany hospital has since cemented the tribal differences between the Teso and Karimojong. This is because the Iteso seek medical attention in Matany hospital.

“Right now these two communities are living together, cultivating together and nobody talks about what happened in the past,” Lomonyang said.

Grace Akol, a resident of Kyere sub-County in Serere district recently had her child admitted to Matany and witnessed the good patient care she received from the medical staff.

Brother Nahrich says about three quarters of patients seeking services in Matany come from Teso while others are from Sebei and Lango. The hospital supervises 11 lower level health units in Napak district, and more than 100 traditional birth attendants and 420 Village Health Team members.

According to Dr. John Bosco Nsubuga, the Medical Superintendent, during the financial year 2013-2014, Matany Hospital handled a total of 33,074 patients from various regions such as Bugisu, Teso, Lango and Sebei regions in the outpatients department.

However, Nsubuga says the number of patients rises during the rainy season.

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