President Yoweri Museveni has said government will support Mulago hospital to directly procure urgently needed equipment to operationalise the newly installed multibillion Heart Operation theatre unit worth over Shs 10bn (US$ 4.5Million).
The President was today meeting officials from Mulago hospital led by the Minister of State For Primary Health Hon. Sarah Opendi, the Director general of Health Services Dr. J.R Achieng, the Executive Director of Mulago Hospital Dr. Byarugaba Baterana, the Executive Director Mulago Heart Institute Dr. John Omagino, the Head of Cardiac Surgery Dr. Peter Lwabi and a team from the Agha Khan Foundation led by Dr. Raj Jutley.
The unit that is fully equipped with a cardiac catherization unit has been installed with the personal support of President Museveni. If fully operational, it has the capacity to facilitate 1000 operation procedures per year which if referred abroad would cost the country in the excess of US$20million be year. ‘They should speed up the process of having the unit fully functioning. This will save a lot of lives and money. If you could also stop heart, brain and kidney treatments from abroad, we can save a lot of money,” he said.
The President also said he would look into the issue of the structure of the Ministry of Public Service to ensure that it accommodates special human resource requirements of specialized staff to work in the unit and also consider their terms to retain them. The Director of the Heart Institute Dr. John Omagino hailed President Museveni for his support in installing the unit describing it as a gold mine for the country that will go a long way in improving the health of Ugandans and saving millings of dollars wasted on travel abroad for treatment. “The country has been losing US$20 million per year, but if this unit is here, it will only cost US$4million saving the country US$16milling in costs. We have requested the President to support us to do direct procurement for the specialized equipment to operationalise the unit because if subjected to PPDA rules, it will cause delays through unnecessary competitions,” he said.
The health officials were also concerned that despite training the specialized staff to work in the unit, they have lost many of them to greener pastures abroad because the Civil service structure does not accommodate such specialized staff because their terms are general and do not attract or retain staff. Dr. Omagina said they proposed that funding for the facility can be agreed upon to allow for the improvement of the remuneration of specialist workers. “Each patient has been spending about US$20,000 on transport, hotel bills and meals. We estimate the cost of medical to be about US$8000-US$10,000. If we can agree per patient tariff of only the medical figure here then we can factor in the remuneration for staff,” he said. The hospital is also exploring collaboration with the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi and the Aga Khan Foundation.