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In memory of Dr. Tuunde


Since 1987, Dr. Steven Tuunde has been associated with the SALEM project in Uganda. At that time, Museveni's new government had only been in power for a year and a half and, at least for the time being, calm had entered the previously very precarious situation of the regimes of Idi Amin, Obote II and Okello.

Finally, we thought, it would be possible to further develop the projects in SALEM as well. The SALEM Health Centre, which was built in 1983, was in urgent need of qualified staff. Initially, Dr. Tuunde came once a week, always on Tuesdays, to support the medical staff. However, from the end of 1987 onwards, the political situation worsened again, with cattle thefts by the Karimajong ethnic group reaching close to the SALEM village. Thousands of refugees sought shelter in the project night after night - what followed was a huge number of malnourished children. Dr. Tuunde was also significantly involved in the establishment of a malnourished ward.

Gradually, the health centre developed into an important institution. Soon, Dr. Tuunde was able to perform the first simple operations in a makeshift consultation room, especially inguinal hernias under local anesthesia. Over the years, more doctors have been recruited as part-time employees. Everyone came and went, but Dr. Tuunde stayed - until the end. For years, he had been the medical director of the infirmary. All further developments required his great experience. In the meantime, the health center is on the verge of being admitted to the hospital, which was also only possible thanks to the tireless efforts of Dr. Tuunde. Many patients owe their lives to him, his work was mainly in the regional hospital in Mbale, but especially since he retired, with great commitment in SALEM.

In 2001, Dr. Tuunde came to Germany together with his wife, a midwife; she was invited to a congress and together they used the time to get to know life in Germany, among other things at the grape harvest in Heitersheim/Gallenweiler in Baden. In 2007, Kevina Tuunde died on her way to work.

At the end of January 2024, we were able to meet Dr. Tuunde in person. He came to SALEM-Uganda in his small car and was involved in the video conference with the German Doctors for the construction of the new operating theatre in SALEM-Uganda.

On the morning of February 21, 2024, his large heart stopped beating in the hospital of Mbale.

We will miss him very much - as a friend, as a colleague, as a board member of SALEM-Uganda, but above all as a person who was committed to ensuring that people have access to treatment, whether they are rich or poor. As someone who was committed to fighting corruption in the state structures of the Ugandan health system and thus served as a role model for many young doctors and medical staff. He was able to "read the patients", with his great experience he helped so many to live longer and healthier lives.

 Gertrud Schweizer-Ehrler and Samuel Müller

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