Speech of the Chargé d'affairs at the Opening Ceremony of St. Andrea Kaahwa Kooki Community Hospital
Your Excellency, the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda; Members of Parliament; Your Lordship Bishop of Hoima; Your Lordship Bishop of Kasese; Representatives of the Kooki Community Hospital; Representatives of the German NGO “Together” and of the Ugandan NGO “ToRuDeS”; Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
First of all I would like to thank you for the invitation to attend today’s official opening of the Kooki Community Hospital, which was made possible with funding by the German Government. I may convey the greetings of Ambassador Dr. Blomeyer who is not in the country at the moment. It is a great honor to be part of this event.
In 1948, the World Health Organization defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” Health – in all its aspects – is a top priority for the international cooperation of Germany and, of course, for the people in our partner countries.
The tragedy of sickness is that it takes away people’s capacity fully to act in their society. When we look back, we think of lost potential, we think of lives lost in early childhood or during maternity because of the lack of effective healthcare. Uganda still ranks among the top 10 countries in the world for high maternal, new-born and child mortality rates. We think particularly of women that have so often been frustrated or lost because of the lack of adequate healthcare. According to UNICEF statistics 18 Ugandan mothers die every day. The commitment of a universal health care system, including the needs of children and the needs of women, is the commitment to developing the fullest possible potential of every person.
There is a lot that still has to be done:
- Despite the massive progress achieved through the Millennium Development Goals, 16,000 children still die worldwide every day – many from diseases that nowadays can actually be prevented.
- More than one billion people worldwide still have no access to adequate and affordable health care.
- And every year, more than 100 million people are pushed back into poverty by the costs of medical care.
Effective health care systems are vital. Affordable health care is a protection against impoverishment – for individual people and for entire countries. One of the goals of German development cooperation is to ensure that as many people and countries as possible can enjoy this protection. Strong health systems are a foundation stone not only for improved health but also for sustainable development, social peace and global security.
That is why better health worldwide is in the interest of the private sector, too. Companies, in particular, depend on healthy, well-trained staff, prospering societies and a reliable environment for the production and sales of their products. A big and untapped potential – also for Uganda – lies therefore in public-private partnerships in the health sector.
Therefore I am very happy that the Kooki Community Hospital is a successful example of public-private partnership between the Government of Uganda and the NGO ToRuDeS – Together Rural Development Solidarity. With the help of the German Government and the German NGO partner “Together” the Ugandan NGO “ToRuDeS” built this health station in Kooki and will operate it. As a next step the Ugandan Ministry of health will provide for medical staff and medication. I am sure, that this kind of partnership might serve as a model for the construction of further hospitals in the whole of Uganda.
Germany is ready to stand by your side and assist the further development. We do hope that the operation of the Kooki Community Hospital will be successful and will help the people in the region to get well and fit again.
Another striking example of how successful the cooperation between various health actors can be is the Global Vaccine Alliance GAVI. Producers of vaccines are part of the Alliance, as are governments, NGOs, research institutions, multilateral organizations and private donors.
Let me remind you that the number of children who die worldwide every day is 16,000.
A simple vaccine could save 25 per cent of these children. That is 1.5 million children's lives every year. Germany is supporting GAVI globally and also regionally in East Africa. Since 2013, 60 million Euros have been invested in the vaccination programs of GAVI in the region - including Uganda. Further 90 million Euros are committed for the continuation of this program until the end of 2018.
Another topic that is especially important for us, is vocational training. Well-trained health professionals are the backbone of any functioning health system. For East Africa, we are supporting the training of Nurses and Midwifes in Partnership with Aga Khan University in Nairobi and Dar-Es-Salaam. In all of Africa, we now have eleven partnerships focusing on vocational training in the health sector.
I did mention our partnership with governments and the private sector in international health cooperation. Equally important for us in Germany is, that our development work is conducted in full partnership with Churches, civil society organizations and private initiatives. The German Government directs substantial amounts of its aid to partnerships between government and civil society all over the world. The problems of health and education that face this country and so many other countries throughout the world are much too big to be solved by government alone, by local communities alone, or by churches and private initiatives alone, but together with a shared vision of what is possible for us, with a shared vision of the dignity of each person, we can meet those challenges.
Medical care is not about solving abstract medical problems. It is about care for real persons by reals persons. I wish you continued success for Kooki Hospital and its community. Look after yourself!