On July 1, 2021, Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) opened a COVID-19 Treatment Center designed to expand the hospital’s capacity to care for patients with COVID-19. Construction began on April 1, 2020 and today, has added 60 full isolation beds to the hospital’s capacity.

Global Health Collaborative (GHC) Program Director Stephen Asiimwe, MBChB, MS, DrPH, and Program Manager Annet Kembabazi, steered the collaboration that created the center. The treatment center was built with support from Build Health International, the First Mile Program, the Uganda Ministry of Health, MRRH, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, and the Mass General Center for Global Health (CGH).

The center’s opening came amid a significant third wave of COVID-19 infections. While many areas across the globe were reporting decreasing COVID-19 cases and deaths at the beginning of the summer, Uganda and other countries on the African continent were experiencing surges. Ugandan officials reported a 2,800% increase in cases from May 13 to June 13.

An MGH Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action (GDRHA) team dispatched to Uganda on June 24, to assist in the country’s response to a third wave of COVID-19 cases. The team, staffed mainly with critical care nurses, offered support in three main areas: direct clinical support in the COVID-19 treatment unit, operationalizing the CTC, and training clinical staff.

“Fortunately, the cases have started coming down which gives us a breather right now,” Asiimwe says. “Hopefully, we will get this behind us as our vaccination numbers keep going up.”

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