By the 2nd half of the 19th century, christianity and western medical care had not reached Uganda. Ugandams were in spiritual “darkness”, and diseases especially Trypanosomiasis and Syphilis were occurring at epidemic levels in the country. Realizing that this subjects needed the “light”, the then king of Buganda, Sekabaka Mutesa-1, invited men of good will to come from England to bring the “light” that consisted of three important elements namely: Evangelism , Health care and Education.
Mengo Hospital is a Missionary Hospital which was started by Sir Albert Cook on 22nd February 1897, when he held his first out—patient Clinic under a tree, on Namirembe Hill. The first structure he set up was a grass-thatched house built out of mad and wattle.
He had a wooden bed where he saw and operated his patients, and later increased the number of beds to twelve.
Unfortunately, in 1902, lightning struck and burnt down the grass-thatched health facility, but Cook never gave up; he immediately built another structure whose capacity doubled that of the first one.
In 1899, Sir Albert Cook was joined by his elder brother, John Howard Cook, also a Medical Doctor. Both of them did what they could to offer quality health care service to the natives of the Buganda Kingdom that were over-whelmed by malaria, sleeping sickness and sexually transmitted diseases.
Albert Cook was an -all- round Doctor; a Physician, Surgeon, Pathologist, Dentist and Obstetrician/Gynecologist. Due to the nature of his work, coupled with his kind personality it is written of him that ―”he won the hearts of the natives”
In 1917, Dr. Albert Cook started the first Medical Training School for Dressers and Dispensers to facilitate his Medical work.
The initiative eventually germinated into all the Medical Schools you see today.
Mengo Hospital is also proud to have started the first Midwifery and Nursing Training School in Uganda.
The Hospital is the pioneer for Modern Medicine in Uganda because it was a Precursor of the Government Hospital at Mulago Hill which started in 1913.
In regard to ownership, at the beginning, the hospital belonged to the Church Missionary Society. However, in 1958 the Hospital was handed over by the Church Missionary Society to an independent and autonomous Board of Governors and Registered Trustees.
Though Mengo Hospital is the oldest Hospital in the country, today, the Hospital is an urban community Hospital with all the amenities of a modern hospital in sub-Saharan Africa.
For instance it has a Dental Clinic which is ranked among, if not the best in the country. Similarly the Eye Clinic is well equipped and boasts of offering quality care services that are second to none in the country.
The Hospital houses the Ernest Cook Radiology Department, named after Ernest Cook, the nephew of Albert Cook, who brought the first X-Ray machine to East Africa in 1907, and installed it at Mengo Hospital.
The X-Ray department is located within the Sr. Albert Cook Building. The Department houses the Ernest Cook Ultra-sound Research and Education Institute (ECUREI).
ECUREI offers Ordinary and Advanced Diploma Courses in Ultrasonography.