Elgon health institute to transform communities

Director, Mr Namoni Kateu inspects the premises at Elgon International health Institute. PHOTO | MUDANGHA KOLYANGHA

What you need to know:

  • What started as a student’s dream has materialised into a fully-fledged health training institution in Mbale.

In 2002, Mr Namoni Kateu decided he would build a medical training school. As a student at the School of Hygiene – Mbale, Mr Kateu wanted to create more room for the applicants who had nowhere to go, for various medical-related courses.    

 “I was fortunate enough to be selected – on government sponsorship – to be trained as a health assistant at the School of Hygiene – Mbale. Many candidates had been left out for lack of space. I completed the certificate in 2002,” Mr Kateu recounts. He  planned to start Elgon International Health Institute while  still at college.  

“I contemplated how best I could get resources to begin a medical training school.” He benchmarked Sir Albert Cook- Tororo, and Mutufu in Mbale, he got the basics of establishing a medical training college. “I did not have any money to kick start the dream for nursing assistants but had to start anyway,” he says.

Space availed

Then in March 2005, he chanced upon Precious Adult Secondary School in Mbale which had idle rooms. He engaged the school management to allow him to start there.

They agreed to sub-rent two rooms at Shs50, 000 per month. Each admitted student paid Shs10, 000 as admission fees. They ably mobilised 25 students who paid Shs240,000 for tuition and accommodation. “We had to sub-rent another two rooms for the girls while the boys remained in one of the classrooms.”

He shared an office with the secondary school. The pioneer staff were his former classmates, while the students, who graduated as nursing assistants became the school ambassadors linking them to other students.

In 2007, he received Shs25m from American good Samaritans Eric and Rangi who were supporting a community-based organisation Health Focus which was operating in the region. This forced us to change the name to Natiki Health Institute and trained enrolled nurses and midwives. 

“We transferred the school to Kanginima, Pallisa in 2008. Eric and Rangi later left but they connected them to Mercy and Wesire who also mobilised for them medical equipment and other training modules,” he says.

Two years later, the Nurses Council advised them to get a qualified principal from Mulago Tutor’s College to operate a nursing school.

“Principals who qualified at Mulago Tutors College were very few and to get one was difficult. Luckily, they hired George Twongtho [RIP]. This was our major recruitment,” he observed.

Twongtho did not stay long. Mr Kateu says was invited by the Nurses Council for interviews but  was instead posted  to Alice Anume Memorial School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pallisa.

“I got demoralized and went for further studies in 2010 to undertake a diploma. However, teaching continued with students undertaking different courses - medical records officers and nursing assistants,” he says.

While undertaking further studies at the School of Hygiene, Mr Kateu was offered space at St Margaret Senior Secondary School, Malale for Shs1.2m per month.

The school had only 24 students who were transferred to Green Pastures SS. Here, they opted to train theatre assistants because they were few.

“We had to carry all the medical equipment, and books to the new site and as well change the name to Elgon International Health Institute in 2012. They also switched registration from Nurses Council to Allied Health Professional Courses,” he said

One of the pioneer students was the daughter of the landlord whose Shs1.2m tuition was converted into rent.  The school had to re-organise the staffing, and Mr Joseph Masolo, was the first principal, George Oluk [tutor], Godfrey Mafabi [instructor], Hellen Wanyenze [nurse], Nicholas Okodel [bursar], Florence Tswape [ staff] and Tarzan Byakika [chairperson board].

The future of the students is now stable, after the owners acquired a four-acres of land in Najja ward, Namigalo Cell, Northern Division, Mbale City, and started construction of their new home. It got registered M.O.E.S/HET/1-007 dated REF 10/5/2022 under classification-health training in certificate programmes.

Mr Kateu says the school was accredited to offer a diploma in medical laboratory technology and a certificate in pharmacy. Some of the other courses include medical theatre, medical laboratory [certificate and diploma], and medical records.

“We hope to upgrade the school and begin offering diploma courses in pharmacy, clinical medicine, and nursing as well as diploma in theatre techniques next year. So we shall need more structures,” he stated

The school has an enrolment of 365 students.

The establishment of the school has transformed the area through the raising of more commercial buildings and the creation of jobs for the residents.

The growing demand for health workers has boosted many skillful people to embrace the profession and it is the reason why people are yearning to undertake these health courses.

Mr Sisye Muntu, a member of the governing council, says the 11 years of existence have seen remarkable growth.

“Moving from a ramshackled building in its early days to modern facilities and improved conditions today is no mean achievement. We congratulate the founders [director], instructors, the community, and the beneficiaries who are engaged in the reshaping of the future health workers” Mr Muntu said during a thanksgiving ceremony.

The principal, Mr Ambrose Ndoboli, said: “We have great tutors and instructors, extremely dedicated, who gave us their all. It was impossible for us not to shine without the parents, students and instructors. This is a great achievement,” he said.

Over the years, the facility has made strides in advocating for high-quality  education in the medical field. Students come from as far as Karamoja, Sebei, Teso, Bukedi, Busoga, West Nile and western regions.

The academic registrar, Kayi Kagayi said the journey has not been smooth, but the commitment and dedication of the entire team is a good gesture.

“At times, it was an issue of don’t mind the buildings, mind the teaching but thank God, what we prayed for has been realised. Elgon International Health Institute is making strides in the promotion of quality education “Mr Kagayi said.

“As per the vision, health and education for the sustainable economic development of all communities are aimed at training and producing competent health workers.”