By Eddie Ssejjoba
ICMDA National Institute of Health Sciences, Jonglei, a South Sudan institute has relocated to Uganda with 51 students due to the ongoing war in their country.
The institute, managed by ICMDA (International Christian Medical and Dental Association) has 51 students pursuing a Diploma in medicine and public health, registered nursing and registered midwifery has been temporarily hosted at Mengo Hospital as the management awaits for the situation to return to normal in South Sudan.
It was Friday inaugurated by Dr. Isaac Ezati, the director for planning in the ministry of health who represented the minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
Dr. Ezati said Uganda and South Sudan have had a long working history and he was not surprised that the institute chose Uganda as their next home.
He told students that Uganda was committed to offering the best for the people of South Sudan as it would to its own population, “after all we are all one people”.
Students were selected from all the 10 states of South Sudan and were supposed to commence their studies in March this year in Bor town, Jonglei but classes were suspended due to fighting.
The school director, Dr. Anil Cherin said ICMDA started the process of establishing the school in Jonglei but were forced to relocate to Uganda when the war broke out.
He said they planned to stay for one year at Mengo, but they would assess the situation and decided to stay longer depending on the situation at home.
“We realized that Jonglei had a critical need of health workers, so we started on the process of setting up an institute to train health workers”.
Dr. Isaac Ezati, director of planning ministry of health chats with Dr. Anil Cherin, the director of the ICMDA National Institute of Health Sciences after it was launched at Mengo Hospital. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba
“We worked in collaboration with the Episcopal Church and the ministry of health but when the conflict began, everything collapsed, that is when we began on exploring options and zeroed on Mengo Hospital,” he said.
The school will follow the South Sudan curriculum with all students fully sponsored by the Anglican International Development of the United Kingdom and CORDAID, a Dutch organization.
The students’ guild leader, Arach Maker Arach said the health situation in their country was so critical that many people were dying due to lack of medical attention.
He vowed on behalf of his fellow students that they would go back to serve their country to save the situation.
Students signed a memorandum of understanding to serve under the ministry of health for three years.
Michael Amanamoi the South Sudanese deputy ambassador to Uganda said it was heart breaking that they fought hard to attain Independence but a few years later went back to zero.
“We fought unanimously for 22 years as a united people to attain Independence and lost over two million five hundred people but we have fought again and we have gone back to square one”, he said.
He cautioned the students to be law abiding and avoid idling on the streets but concentrate on reading their books.
“I know we would be back in Janglei where the institute was supposed to be located but we are here; I feel heartbroken that we caused the problem ourselves,” he explained, extending appreciation to the government of Uganda for accepting to host the school.
He cautioned them against incidents of indiscipline and idling on the streets.
“As you begin to settle and study in Kampala, work hard and abide by the laws of the land,” Amanamoi said.
According to the deputy ambassador, between 12,000 and 15,000 students from South Sudan were studying in Uganda plus thousands of pupils enrolled in different primary schools.