By Taddeo Bwambale and Fred Turyakira
The Government has paid tribute to Dr. Samuel Muhumuza Mutoro, the Ugandan medical specialist who succumbed to Ebola in a Liberian hospital on Tuesday.
Muhumuza, 44, a senior surgeon based in Liberia, died at the John F. Kennedy Medical Centre Monrovia, where he was being treated.
He had been working in Liberia for three years as a specialist at the Redemption Hospital in New Krul town on a contract with the Liberian government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Ugandan senior surgeon Dr. Samuel Muhumuza Mutoro and his wife and child during olden days. PHOTO/Fred Turyakira
Health minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda described Muhumuza’s death as a big loss to Uganda and Africa.
The Government has advised Ugandans to limit their travel to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, which have been hit by the Ebola epidemic.
At least 467 people have died of Ebola in the three countries, out of the 759 reported cases, according to WHO.
However, Ruganda, who was speaking during a media briefing in Kampala, said Uganda has not issued a travel ban to the three countries.
Ugandans with relatives in the affected countries were advised to ‘keep on the alert in case their relatives return to the country during this period.
Disease surveillance checks have been put up at border points, especially for people coming from the affected countries, Rugunda disclosed.
Uganda last suffered an Ebola outbreak in 2012 and at least four people died of the disease at the time.
Prayers for Dr. Muhumuza
In Mbarara, hundreds of mourners thronged St. James Cathedral Ruharo on Thursday for a requiem service for the fallen medical doctor.
Many broke down in tears after John Baptist Mujuni, the master of ceremonies, told them to light candles and lay a wreath before the deceased’s portrait that had been placed on a chair.
“We would have loved to see Dr. Muhumuza’s remains in the casket before us, but due to the circumstances under which he died, we are unable to. He has been a diligent and committed health worker, our ambassador and died in a country where they lack medical workers,” Mujuni said.
Guinean women washing their hands at the entrance of the Sino-Guinean hospital of Kipe in the Ratoma municipality, where the first person infected with the Ebola virus was treated in Conakry. PHOTO/AFP
Prof. Samuel Malingi, who was Muhumuza’s lecturer at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, said the deceased should be recognised like Dr. Matthew Lukwiya and Dr. John Kule, who died of Ebola as they tried to save patients in Gulu and Bundibugyo hospitals respectively.
He said Muhumuza had a heart to assist vulnerable and needy people, revealing that when he was in Mbarara, he worked in the Nakivale refugee settlement in Isingiro district.
Diana Muhumuza, the widow, said her husband contracted the virus as he tried to attend to a patient who had been neglected by other medical personnel.
“On Friday, I called him and he told me that he was putting onto oxygen a patient who had been neglected. After some days, he told me that he developed high fever and was waiting for the test results,” she narrated.
Before his passing on, Muhumuza called his wife again and told her that he had been put indoors and the hospital had been closed for two weeks, following the outbreak.
Mrs. Muhumuza said after receiving the news of his death, they booked a ticket to go and see where he was buried, but were advised against the trip.
Rev. Jehoida Baluku Mutoro, the deceased’s elder brother, said they look forward to bringing back Mutoro’s body for burial in Uganda.
He said they have been told the body will be Ebola-free after 21 days.
Dr. Muhumuza, who is survived by a wife and three children, was born a day after the death of his father, the late Samuel Bagheni Mutoro, in an accident. He was raised by Constantine Bwambale, the former prime minister of Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu.
Another requiem service will take place today in Bwera, Mpondwe, Kasese district.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a highly infectious disease that presents with high fever and bleeding from body parts. Other signs may include vomiting, abdominal pain, a measles-like rash and red eyes.
It is spread through physical contact with body fluids such as saliva, blood, stool, vomit, urine and sweat from an infected person and soiled clothing used by a patient.
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Ebola: Gov''t honours fallen doctor