In Summary

The issue: UHI surgeries.

Our view: Similar efforts should be extended to other sections of medical treatment such as spinal corrections and enhanced brain surgeries.

For the first time, doctors at the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) based at Mulago National Referral Hospital successfully corrected heart beat illegalities among 11 patients in a specialised procedure known as Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA). Of interest, all the patients worked on were discharged and they will be able to share experiences with the public.

Dr John Omagino, the UHI executive director, says abnormal heartbeats constitute 19 per cent of the heart disease burden worldwide while at UHI, they constitute 25 per cent of the patients seen on a daily basis. He says highly specialised treatment costs about Shs18m at UHI compared to about Shs70m abroad.

What the doctors at UHI have demonstrated only comes in handy to illustrate the point that with the ready availability of equipment and trained personnel, our doctors are capable of performing surgeries which until recently would make Ugandans travel out of the country to have them corrected. This would, therefore, reduce on referrals for patients with abnormal heart beats and other conditions or ailments.
Better still, when UHI is able to perform such surgeries, the country saves on foreign exchange as well as on its own resources which are then channelled to other areas in need of funding.

This is where, as government, the health budget must reflect the state of health affairs the country wishes to have. An ailing population cannot be productive, consequently, it cannot add progressively to the country’s GDP.
The ministerial policy statement for the health sector indicates that Shs18.5 billion was allocated to UHI in the financial year 2017/2018. The mid-term framework paper indicates that in 2018/2019, UHI will be allocated Shs20.9b.

And, Mulago Hospital Complex received Shs73 billion in 2017/2018 and is expected to receive Shs83 billion in the coming financial year.
With recent happenings in these institutions before, these budgets may not have been adequate, reason there have been many referrals.
The Uganda health sector has been or is still ailing, run down and in shambles. However, many of the health problems in the country lie in the lack of equipment and more so, low morale among the health personnel arising from the meagre remuneration.

Therefore, similar efforts should be extended to other sections of medical treatment such as spinal corrections, enhanced brain and heart surgeries to allow a fully-fledged and well equipped unit to be able to attend to emergencies that have reduced the poor people to beggars, begging for funding to undertake surgeries out of the country, failure of which have culminated into permanent deformities or deaths.