By Emmanuel Lumala Dombo
Of recent, there has been a number of government officials and other VIPs who have died abroad while on medical referral out of the country. This has prompted many uninformed Ugandans to post various outragious comments about our health sector! To an innocent onlooker who may be ignorant about the improvements that have been made over time, may imagine that our health services delivery sector has totally collapsed and only awaiting burial!
To the contrary, there has been marked improvement in the number and quality of medical staff, and our doctor to patient ratio must have significantly improved. The infrastructure and number of beds have increased and the supplies and medicines has improved too. The number of consultants has increased and the management of complicated cases has also improved. It should be remembered that during Covid-19, for about two years, there was no medical referral out of the country and the Ugandan medical workers did a fantastic job to manage all the cases here.
Apart from that, we have other specialist areas that have grown from scratch to becoming regional centers of excellence. To some of the Ugandans who have either been treated or had their patients treated at the Uganda Heart Institute will bear me witness about the quality of doctors and other allied medical workers in that facility and the quality of good that they do, the inadequacies in equipment and medicines notwithstanding. They have managed many complicated cases that never get referred out of the country. Besides that, they have been very instrumental in arranging some of the referrals many of which have been successfully managed abroad.
To those that have visited the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) will also appreciate that this facility is another regional center of excellence and it manages a number of cases from the East African region. I also know that the regional referral hospitals are doing a fantastic job although at times their delivery is underminened by the corruption tendencies of some of the medical workers and thevinadequate funding for supplies, and outright theft of drugs andequipment. The district hospitals and other health centre 4s, including the health centre 3s have improved the delivery of the health services in the country, improved the quality of life and improved the life expectancy!
Although we may not match the countries where some of the cases have been referred for obvious reasons, we need to applaud our doctors and other medical workers for a fantastic job they are doing amidst the competitive challenges for the same resources. The Ministry of Health needs to come up with a comprehensive plan of how best to improve the funding for medical services and training and payment of doctors and other medical workers to attract the many Ugandans who have either gone out to seek greener pastures or have abandoned treatment for other lucrative jobs.
We also have to encourage partnerships between the private sector and government, even if it means guaranteeing and loan facility for them to import modern equipment so that their services can become accessible and affordable. This will help many Ugandans to invest in the wellness tests instead of waiting until it is too late. The Aga Khan in Kenya where a number of our VIPs have died is a private facility and we can have many other Agha Khans here.
Emmanuel Lumala Dombo, Director of Information and Publicity, NRM Secretariat.