Kagando Hospital lies in the South-Eastern foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains on a small West-facing hill looking out across a fertile valley, 20 km from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and 5 km North of the Equator.

The other side the hill looks out towards the Western Rift Valley, with the nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Kizinga Channel linking Lake George and Lake Edward. The story of Kagando hospital is the story of how a small Health Centre responded to the needs of the community and by God’s grace developed, over a period of more than 50 years, into the 250 bed district general hospital it is now.

The story of Kagando involves many chapters, many vital individuals (local and from abroad) and many organisations including the Africa Inland Mission, TEAR Fund, Oxfam, the South Rwenzori Diocese of the Church of Uganda. For almost 30 years KARUDEC (Kagando Rural Development Centre) has been the management Board of the Diocese tasked with managing the hospital and all the associated community projects.

Keith Waddell, one of the founding fathers

The beginnings

In 1964, many missionaries from the Congo (DRC) were forced to flee across the border to Uganda to escape from the Simba Revolution. Some of them, headed by Dr Carl Becker came across the small Health Centre at Nyabirongo and a small leprosarium which had been set up 4 miles away at Kagando. With the assistance of Dr Keith Waddell, a young doctor waiting to enter the Congo to start missionary service with the Africa Inland Mission, Dr Becker started developing the simple facilities at Kagando to provide basic health care for the community in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains. After one year, Dr Keith Waddell who was unable to enter the Congo because of the continuing instability and dangers there, was put in charge at Kagando hospital and Dr Becker returned to his home town in Pennsylvania, USA.

Dr Waddell worked at Kagando for many years developing core health services but also some specialised services to provide for care, treatment and eventually the prevention of leprosy, and specialised eye surgery services which are now centred in Mbarara. This has  become a world-renowned centre for the management of retinoblastoma, a serious malignancy of the eye commonly occurring in young children.

The Developments

Since Dr Keith left Kagando there have been many other notable doctors and nurses, One of our current trustees, Maureen Moore OBE, was matron at Kagando for many years and was responsible for developing the nurse training school which is now training over 800 students and is soon to be given university status.

Many Medical, Nursing and Administrative staff have served at Kagando over the last 50 years contributing to the growth of the hospital both in numbers and in specialisation. There are now medical, surgical, obstetric and gynaecology and paediatric wards with the necessary casualty, outpatients, theatres and other vital services such as radiology, laboratories, physiotherapy and administration, all working together to provide good quality healthcare. Central to the running of the hospital has always been the Chaplaincy team which ministers to staff and patients and provides spiritual teaching and support. This helps to encourage and strengthen the Christian values at the heart of the service.

The constant thread throughout these years has been the Christian commitment to show God’s love and care to everyone and anyone in need in this community regardless of race, gender, colour, creed, politics or wealth; all are welcome.

There is a very good account of Kagando Hospital and its development over the years in the book by Rob and Jen Morris – ‘Look to the Mountains’ – available on the internet*. They give many anecdotes of life at Kagando, how it has survived through very difficult times and still has many challenges in its attempts to provide an effective, affordable healthcare service for a community many of whom are living in poverty.

*’Look to the Mountains’ by Rob and Jen Morris – published by Verité CM Ltd, Worthing BN12 4HF

Canon Uzziah Exec Director of Kagando
Sister Laheri teaching student nurses
Mother and child at Kagando Hospital
Theatre technicians

The map below gives the exact location of Kagando Hospital.