From the April 2016 issue of The Rotarian
“This was a gift from God.” Stephen Mwanje remembers those words, spoken by a sick man who had just received free treatment from a doctor at a Rotary-led Family Health Day in Uganda last fall. “He never thought he would get the medical attention he needed,” explains Mwanje, a member of the Rotary Club of Mukono, Uganda, who made that man’s care possible.
In 2010-11, Mwanje was governor of District 9200, which then included Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. As he was researching options to address Uganda’s lack of health care, he crossed paths with Marion Bunch, an American Rotarian who had founded Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention in 2004. Their collaboration resulted in the country’s first free health clinic, organized by Mwanje in 2011.
Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa now hold Rotary Family Health Days once or twice a year. Local partners finance up to 80 percent of the budget for the health days, making the program sustainable. The clinics last two or three days and are staffed by volunteer health professionals who provide a wide range of services and treatments to anyone who shows up. More than a million people have been treated with the help of thousands of Rotary volunteers. Because of Mwanje’s commitment to health care in Uganda, the country also has its first oncology clinic, which was funded by a Rotary grant.
By Heather Maher