Patients seeking specialist care at Mulago National Specialized Hospital will continue to pay for pharmaceuticals and sundries that are not listed as necessary medicines out of their own pockets.
Dr Byarugaba Baterana, the Executive Director of Mulago Hospital, informed journalists on Friday that the hospital was only given 8.7 billion Shillings for medications, despite the fact that they require up to Sh101 billion. He claims that the hospital currently receives only Sh69.3 billion in funding, of which Sh29 billion is used to pay employee salaries.
Even while the hospital is a free government facility, he noted, most specialist operations and services, such as orthopaedic surgery that require implants and some pharmaceuticals necessary in the Intensive Care Unit, must be paid for.
With a deficit of up to 92 billion Shillings, he stated their hands are tied, and that patients in the intensive care unit, for example, must pay between 1 million and 2 million Shillings per day to be kept alive, depending on the disease they are treating.
Baterana made the remarks at the inauguration of a new board that includes 13 members and is led by Dr. Edward Kanyesigye, the Dean of Uganda Christian University’s School of Medicine. Businessman Patrick Bitature, the Director-General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health and Researcher and Pediatrician Philippa Musoke are among the board’s other members.
Apart from not being able to meet all of their patients’ drug needs, he also pointed out that, despite promising that the super-specialized facility would be up and running by now, conducting some of the most specialized procedures such as organ transplants and reducing medical tourism, they are still far from achieving this.
This is primarily due to the fact that, despite years of postponed reopening deadlines, repairs are still unfinished. The agreement with the local firm ROKO constructions limited, when the renovations began in 2014, was to get the hospital up and operating by 2016, only for the contractor to go bankrupt along the way.
This problem, according to Hanifa Kawooya, the State Minister of Health in charge of General Duties, has not been resolved after five years, and she cannot predict when it will be reopened. She informed URN that they have enlisted the help of the attorney general to resolve the situation, which had been placed on hold temporarily.
Meanwhile, Patrick Bitature, who recently joined the board, says Mulago’s problems are similar to those faced by many businesses in the country, which is why the government decided this time to appoint a member of the private sector to the board, as well as an engineer and a lawyer, to ensure that the medical team receives timely guidance on how to resolve their issues.
“The majority of the issues I saw at Mulago were business obstacles or issues that required a business solution. What the minister has done is bring in people with extensive business knowledge to assist. “I’ll use my connections in the business community to help Mulago shine once more,” Bitature stated.