Mulago to continue charging for specialized services
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Patients seeking specialized care from Mulago National Specialized hospital will continue paying out of their pockets for drugs and sundries that are not quoted as essential medicines.
Mulago Hospital Executive Director Dr Byarugaba Baterana told journalists on Friday that the facility was only availed a paltry 8.7 billion Shillings for drugs, yet they need up to Sh101 billion. He says that the hospital at the moment only gets an allocation of Sh69.3 billion of which 29 billion goes to payment of staff salaries.
He said most of the specialized procedures and services such as orthopaedic surgeries that require implants and some drugs required in the Intensive Care Unit have to be paid for even as the hospital is a free government facility.
With a deficit of up to 92 billion Shillings, he said their hands are tied that patients in ICU for instance have to part with between 1 million and 2 million Shillings per day to be sustained depending on the condition they are treating.
Baterana said this at the inauguration ceremony of a new board that comprises 13 members headed by Dr Edward Kanyesigye the Dean, School of Medicine at Uganda Christian University. Other members of the board include businessman Patrick Bitature, Dr Henry Mwebesa the Director-General of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Researcher and Pediatrician Philippa Musoke, among others.
Apart from not satisfying all their patients’ needs in terms of drugs, he noted that even as they had promised that by now the super-specialized facility will be up and running conducting some of the most specialized procedures such as organ transplants and cutting down on medical tourism, they are still far from reaching this.
This is mainly because renovations are still incomplete despite years of extended reopening deadlines. In 2014 when the renovations started, the deal with the local firm ROKO constructions limited was to have the hospital up and running by 2016 only for the contractor to run bankrupt along the way.
This hurdle according to Hanifa Kawooya, the State Minister of Health in charge of General Duties is still not solved five years later and she can’t tell for sure when reopening will happen. She told URN that they have involved the attorney general to solve this matter which had been temporarily put on hold.
Meanwhile, Patrick Bitature who has now joined the board says the problems that Mulago faces are problems that many businesses in the country are facing which is why the government thought it wise this time to put a member of the private sector on the board, an engineer and a lawyer such that the medical team are given timely guidance on how to sort their challenges.
“Most of the problems I could see at Mulago are business challenges or problems that need a business solution. What the minister has done is bring business experience with depth to come and help. I will use my network in the business community to make Mulago shine again,” said Bitature.