“Knowing that I meet God in every patient gives me great joy.” – Dr. Sister Priscilla Busingye, 2020 L’Chaim Prize recipient
Deland, Fla. – African Mission Healthcare (AMH) is pleased to announce that the prestigious AMH Gerson L’Chaim (“To Life”) Prize for Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service has been awarded to Dr. Sister Priscilla Busingye, OB-GYN and a member of the Banyatereza Sisters of Uganda. Dr. Busingye is the first woman and first African to receive the award. The Prize, including a $500,000 award in support of her medical work, is the largest dedicated to direct patient care.
AMH Co-Founder and Prize sponsor Mark Gerson observed, “Dr. Busingye’s life and work are truly amazing. She epitomizes everything that a compassionate, community-minded person could possibly aspire to, regardless of their faith tradition. She ‘loves the stranger’ every day in a genuine and tangible manner. It is a joy for my wife, Erica, and me, as Jews, to celebrate the work of this wonderful Christian physician.”
Dr. Priscilla was born and raised in an impoverished Ugandan village with no attending nurse or doctor, no medical equipment and no electricity. The training and support she later received from the Sisters inspired her to devote her life to serving the poor. She is now one of very few OB-GYN specialists in her region and works tirelessly on behalf of her community’s women and children.
The $500,000 L’Chaim Prize will enable Dr. Busingye’s dream of saving and improving the lives of the hurting and forgotten in rural Uganda by sponsoring training, establishing new approaches for community outreach and engagement, and transforming the Rwibaale Clinic into a center of excellence for maternal and child care. The resulting center of excellence will annually deliver 1,000 babies, providing primary care for 1,170 needy children under age 6 and their families (totally 5,100 people) and provide hands-on training and mentorship for 120 doctors, midwives and other health workers sho will improve the quality of maternal health care throughout southwestern Uganda. The Prize will also enable the health center to restore dignity to 120 women through repair of birth injuries and create more than 50 jobs in the local rural community.
Priscilla eagerly walked 14 miles each way to school through the bush, but was forced to drop out as a teenager. She lived with the Banyatereza Sisters and later entered high school at the age of 20. As a physician assistant, she was deeply impacted by a situation where she was unable to assist a mother in distress. “Lord, give me the opportunity and I will never get tired of helping women,” she prayed. Ugandan and Dutch doctors sponsored her to attend medical school. Dr. Busingye went on to become an accomplished fistula (birth injury) surgeon and president of the Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Uganda.
“As a young doctor, my passion was to help the poor in the community. One of the sites was where women delivered babies in an old wooden shack that served as a labor ward. These conditions inspired me to dream big and transform Rwibaale Clinic to be a quality facility where babies could be delivered safely,” explained Dr. Busingye. “Ensuring access to quality obstetric care is the primary was to improve the lives of mothers and their children. Building a model center in the village of Rwibaale will enable training and mentoring of other health providers to learn what is possible when care is provided the right way.”
Dr. Busingye describes her persistence in spite of severe resource limitations. “Knowing that I meet God in every patient gives me great joy. When I care for a woman who is a ‘near miss’ (who almost dies in childbirth) and I stand in that gap by being present to her, this keeps me motivated. All these things make me feel like my life is devoted not to writing books for the library but to writing on people’s hearts about the great work in the heart of God.”
The L’Chaim Prize is provided through the generosity of AMH Co-founder Mark Gerson and his wife Rabbi Erica Gerson. Established in 2016, the L’Chaim Prize is awarded in appreciation of the contribution that Christian missionaries and mission hospitals have made to the service of God and humanity. Mark Gerson added, “Erica and I hope the Prize is a catalyst for even greater support for the people of Uganda. The L’Chaim Prize is the first step in achieving Dr. Priscilla’s ambitious dream.” The Prize is a part of the larger L’Chaim Initiative that also includes a 10-year, $2.5 million grant to selected hospitals working to become clinical and teaching centers of excellence.
This year’s award to an African doctor represent AMH’s ongoing commitment to developing high quality, locally-owned medical institutions and supporting competent, mission-driven African healthcare leaders who are transforming health systems across the continent.
More information on the L’Chaim Initiative is available here.