Authorities in Uganda have refuted fake news that surfaced on social media on Saturday claiming that the chief executive of Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) had died.
Residents of Western Uganda’s Bushenyi District were fed Saturday afternoon false reports that MRRH executive director Dr Celestine Barigye had died.
A few minutes later, social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp groups, were flooded with messages regarding the “untimely death of Dr Barigye,” who lives in the Central Division, Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality, Bushenyi District.
The rumours spread even further as a local radio station, 97.8 Kazo FM Omushomesa, tweeted about the bogus development.
The Ministry of Health has just issued a statement informing the public that “Dr Barigye is well and alive.”
On Saturday, the Ministry of Health issued a statement saying, “Please disregard rumours and social media reports about Dr Celestine Barigye.”
By 3 p.m. on Saturday, the 97.8 Kazo FM Omushomesa Twitter account had likewise removed the message and apologised for deceiving the public.
“We apologise to Dr. Barigye’s friends and family for previous false reports on the subject,” the radio station said.
Speaking to Monitor on Saturday, Dr Barigye’s cousin, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) general director Eng Silver Mugisha, dismissed the reports as a pure fiction.
“It was a forgery!” Yes, he has been unwell, but he was out in the sun today. At the very least, he is much better than he was a few days ago, and we hope he continues to improve. “I’ve been visiting and observing him, and he’s getting better every day,” Eng Mugisha added.
Who exactly is Dr. Barigye?
Dr. Barigye Barigye has been the executive director of the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital since December 2014.
Prior to this position, he was the Bushenyi District Health Officer, a lecturer at Kampala International University, a member of the hospital board of directors, and an active member of various academic and administrative committees.
His research interests include infectious diseases in underdeveloped nations, with a focus on HIV, malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea.
Dr. Barigye earned a Bachelor of Medicine and Science (MBchB) degree from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), where he also finished his internship. He went on to earn a Masters of Public Health with a focus on International Health from Melbourne University in Australia.