Dear GEC family, Today, I’m writing with some very exciting news about the future direction…
GEC is thrilled to welcome Steven Kisingiri to our team as the inaugural Country Director in Uganda. He comes with 23 years of experience in International Development, and is interested in collaborative and creative approaches to build community and reach vulnerable populations.
He is excited to be a part of a dynamic and caring team, dedicated to saving lives. Steven is dedicated to creating opportunities for ordinary people to realize their potential no matter the circumstances they face. This goal has stayed at the core of his work. In his words, “The thrill for me has always been creating a fighting chance for people, and seeing people blossom as a result is priceless.”
Steven is the father to three amazing girls, and in his spare time enjoys gardening, golf, and spending time with friends and family.
Q&A with Steven Kisingiri, Country Director in Uganda
What excites you about GEC and why did you decide to join the organisation?
I have always had a fascination with Emergency Departments from when I was much younger. I even dreamt of setting up one! I have to embarrassingly admit that the 1994-2009’s TV drama ER had something to do with it. So, I have learned throughout my career how important human life is.
How do you see this transferring to your work at GEC?
In my past career I have done this by giving the poor and most vulnerable in society a hand-up – as opposed to handouts – and these came in the form of educational opportunities for those who could not afford, life skills, food, shelter, and so on. Being part of the GEC team, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to develop a cadre of health care professionals who provide high-quality care that ultimately reduces the number of people who die, needlessly suffer from a disease or medical condition, or even become disabled. This really does excite me about this new chapter in my career…it is like a dream come true!
What are you most looking forward to doing during your tenure?
I am passionate about seeing a collaboration with the Ministry of Health, academic institutions, and like-minded partners in training and developing thousands of emergency professionals whose key goal is to ensure no life is limited due to an easily treatable illness or injury at any health center and hospital. Not only will these professionals be skilled at what they do, but they will also have the capacity to develop the next generation of emergency care workforce in the region and the rest of Africa! The work ahead of us is not going to be easy. But I am part of a great GEC team that is up to the challenge and committed for the long haul.
Working Through Adversity on the Frontlines
This past year has exposed health disparities around the world. Uganda is no exception.
At the beginning of the year, Covid-19 levels were low, but Uganda and other African countries were expected to see exponential contagious spread. The first cases of Covid-19 in Uganda were sent to one of Global Emergency Care’s partner hospitals in Masaka, Uganda, putting our Emergency Care Practitioners (ECPs) on the front lines as the pandemic spread across sub-Saharan Africa. Our ECPs, stationed in rural hospitals in the Rukungiri, Masaka, and Mbarara Districts, are the communities’ best hope for triaging Covid-19 symptoms and providing research-based public health education to a population already plagued with misinformation and fear.
Kansiime Glorious, like many of our ECPs, has taken on extra responsibility in orienting the hospital staff about the proper use of PPE, hand hygiene, and triaging COVID-19 patients. In her words, “The country’s economy has suffered as many businesses, schools, and others that involve gatherings are still under lockdown.” The economic crises in Uganda due to Covid-19 led to high transport fees and resource shortage. As Covid-19 surged in Uganda, our ECPs were recognized by the Ugandan Ministry of Health as the first front-line workers to begin the treatment and management of Covid-19. Over 200 Covid-19 patients were treated by ECPs at the Masaka hospital and the Tanzania border crossing.
Updates From the Field
Learning from a difficult year and looking towards the future
Despite the challenges brought on by Covid-19 and election-related restrictions by the government, GEC was able to continue the trajectory of our work in Uganda.
Especially as the world works to emerge from the pandemic, GEC is so grateful for funding from our incredible partners and donors that make this work possible. With limited funding opportunities from Grantmakers as they reduced their budgets during 2020, support from donors like you enabled GEC-trained Emergency Care Practitioners to be deployed to hospitals, including 3 hospitals where new Emergency Departments have been founded.
We are also excited to announce that with generous support from donors, the first cohort of Masters of Emergency Medicine students graduated from Mbarara University.
Our partner hospitals have predicted that the PPE supplies for our ECPs working on the front lines of the pandemic response will last through April. As the vaccination rate slowly increases and current COVID levels remain manageable, we are working to maintain accessible emergency care and transition management of the ECP training and education fully to our local partners. Your support continues to make this possible.
We are working very closely with the 5 of them to take over a more supervisory role of the ECP cadre. Additionally, a GEC-trained MMed graduate was appointed as the president of the Emergency Care Society of Uganda.