PROJECT SUCCESS: Eking a living in rural Bushenyi

Sunday February 21 2010


In Part IX, we track down Patrick Mbusa Kabagambe, the best O- level student of 1999 to tell his story to Joseph Mazige and Brenda Kashaki

One chair, most probably meant for patients or visitors, one computer, a water sink, charts, medical forms and an examination bed.
That is what comprises the office, if one may wish to call it so, of 26-year-old Patrick Mbusa Kabagambe, regarded as a talented clinical investigator at Kabwohe Clinical Research Centre (KCRC).

KCRC was founded by Sheema South MP, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, and a group of clinical researchers interested in finding ways of preventing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection and improving the health of the rural people.

The centre has flourished dramatically into a diverse community of talented clinical investigators. KCRC is situated in the Kabwohe–Itendero Town Council in Bushenyi District in western Uganda.
Ten years ago, Dr Kabagambe hit newspaper headlines while at St Mary’s College, Kisubi in Wakiso District after emerging the best student in the country at O-Level with six aggregates in six subjects.

“I used to pray a lot and my serious attention in science subjects got me going though I gave all subjects the desired attention. All the sleepless nights were not lost.” Dr Kabagambe told Daily Monitor.
“I admired health related work that in my senior one to senior two the arrangement of my books was unique; I treasured science note books more than the arts.”

As the young doctor gave this newspaper audience, the door to his office was kept busy as nurses, patients and attendants kept knocking on it. This explains how busy Dr Kabagambe can be and he is committed to see the rural person live the next day.


With this commitment to work, Dr Kabagambe is still not sure of what is next in his life. He wants to do his masters but at the same time under pressure to raise a family.

“I am dating somebody which relationship may end into marriage but I keep seriously thinking of developing my career further. I don’t know what should come first,” he said.

Dr Kabagambe remained at Kisubi for his A-Level where he studied Physics, Chemistry, Biology and French. “It was very challenging at this level having been the best at O-Level,” he recalls.

Dr Kabagambe scored 1BBCC, which enabled him to join Mbarara University of Science and Technology to pursue a bachelors degree in Medicine, and graduated in 2008 after a successful internship at Mulago Hospital.
He was immediately employed by Dr Tumwesigye, whose passion for health cannot be contested.

He has been an academic giant for his entire journey in education till he achieved his goal of becoming a doctor and he is yet to relent on his career development plans.

Born to a family of seven children by Paddy and Mary Kabagambe of Bwera village in Kasese district but currently living in England of recent. He grew up in different places as his father got transferred from place to another. He was the General Manager of Hima cement the shifted to Jinja when he became the manager of Nytil.

Dr Kabagambe who went to St. Savio Primary Kisubi till P.7 scored 5 aggregates and that enabled him to join St. Mary’s College Kisubi for Secondary.

At senior one, Kabagambe already knew what he wanted because, even the arrangement of his books in the locker was unique, in that science subjects like Physics, Mathematics, and Biology had their own corner and he always treasured them more than the rest though he balanced them in performance.”

“I passed highly [A -level] and joined Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) as it was my first choice because my sister had told me that it was the best campus for Medicine students. My internship at Mulago hospital was a success, I graduated at Mbarara University which has been my biggest achievement.

For Kabagambe to achieve this, it was not a bed of roses. He had to sacrifice a number of things and invested time in books and prayers.
“My life at University was characterised by church activities. I was active in all activities though academics took up most of the time since medicine school doesn`t give too much time for leisure.”

He says he never went to club to dance while at campus and as a member of Lion’s club, participated in the charity work like painting the zebra crossing, a member of University Pentecostal Church choir, which he argues helped him follow the right path.

“Before I went to university, I made decisions to take the course seriously, attend all lectures, at least 80 per cent being close to God and believing in prayer which all led to my success.”

But being on top of academics didn’t stop Kabagambe taking responsibilities in scholl. At St. Mary’s College Kisubi he was Minister of Education and editor-in-chief of the Eagles magazine while at MUST he became editor-in-chief of the University Medical Journal and also played the guitar for the university Pentecostal Choir.

And he has not had any serious regrets in life because he achieved his lifetime goal. “I always wanted to become a doctor and I knew this right from senior one as seen from the arrangement of my books in the locker. I focused on my dream to grow up and help people’s lives and I don’t have any regrets.”

“May be while at campus, it was said that Makerere University used to get more faculty allowance and I admired them and at one point I regretted why I did not opt for Makerere but still I achieved what I wanted in life. And I also regret why I was not involved in sports during school days because I am now putting on weight and have just began exercising.”

Kabagambe says he is inspired by his parents and God; I believe in the saying that “Begin to weave and God will give you the threads.” He adds that he is inspired by his boss Dr Elioda Tumwesigye who is a Member of Parliament as well as a doctor. He set up KCRC/ICOBI Clinics to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS among the people. “My sister Dr. Rose Lukaaya a doctor at Mbarara University Hospital also inspired me to become a doctor.”

Every success comes with challenges and in 1998 Kabagambe’s father suffered a stroke, while he was in senior three and it was a big blow to the family especially to the children.

Their mother had to work for more hours to take care of all the seven children who were by then in expensive schools, fees was not easy to get.

“Brother Bukenya, our Headmaster at Kisubi always understood and he allowed me to study till they paid the school fees. Despite what I was going through, I didn`t give up, I continued working hard so as not disappoint my parents and teachers.”

And my advice to the young people out there is they should remain focused and should not let the previous glory days interfere with their future plans. Keep away from distractions from peers and other people, keep working hard and give their parents the investment they expect.”