The Kellermann Foundation proudly employs Ugandans in every level of staffing and leadership through its partner programs. This regular feature introduces some of the dedicated staff members you support.
by Charles Byarugaba
Dr. Birungi Mutahunga Rwamatware is among few Ugandans to have been born in a hospital during the chaotic reign of Idi Amin in Uganda in the 1970s. His mother attended prenatal clinic at Kambuga Hospi-tal where she was told she had twins.
Until recently, Dr. Birungi’s home in Kibale, a small village in Kanungu District in Uganda’s southwestern horn, had no running water or electricity. “My father is a retired agricultural assistant, while my mom did not realize her dream of being a nurse and raised us as a housewife. With my twin sister, we were last born of ten,” Dr. Birungi says.
Dr. Birungi attended both primary and secondary schools in Kambuga. His child-hood ambition was to be a lawyer. However, he excelled in school, and a family friend who served at Kambuga Hospital, also popularly referred to as Dr. Birungi, mentored him. Did he change his future dream? “The rest is history,” Dr. Birungi shares with a smile.
Dr. Birungi attended Kigezi High School and graduated from Fort-Portal School of Clinical Officers with a Diploma in Clinical Medicine and Community Health (1997). He also earned Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Makerere University (2006), a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of London (2010) and a Diploma in Health Systems Management from Galilee Institute of International Management (2012).
Dr. Birungi joined Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH) in 2007 as Deputy Doctor-in-Charge after having met with Dr. Scott Kellermann and Dr. Paul Williams at Mulago Hospital where Dr. Birungi and his wife, Dr. Doreen, were doing their final internship. Dr. Birungi, Dr. Kellermann and Dr. Williams soon authored a three-year strategic plan to grow the facility. “I coordinated surgery, adult in- patients and diagnostics plans, with some input in human resources, while Dr. Doreen led reproductive health and child health. Everyone worked hard collec-tively,” Dr. Birungi shared. Dr. Birungi received a scholarship from BCH for a Master of Public Health and was promoted to Executive Director of BCH in 2010.
When asked what occupies the biggest part of his time in office, Dr. Birungi responded with surgical precision, “performance management.” Under his leadership, BCH earned high UPMB rankings, opened the Uganda Nursing School Bwindi (UNSB)and received five prestigious awards, including the Pearl of Africa Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) and Uganda Sustainable Development Award (2017).
Dr. Birungi’s dream is for BCH to be a center of excellence offering tertiary health care, a leader in research and innovation and a training home to world-class graduates from UNSB. “ “The least I can say is, ‘thank you,’” Birungi concludes.