Dr John Omagino cautioned on Wednesday that the ongoing ping pong between the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) and the ROKO construction company over the failure to complete work on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is costing lives.
According to Dr. Omagino, the Institute’s Executive Director, there are currently over 150 people waiting for various types of heart procedures, but they can’t transport them to the operating room due to a lack of intensive care services.
He claims that the institute should have a 16-bed ICU by now, but they are trapped with the old four-bed facility despite paying them a total cost of 3.5 billion Shillings in 2015, when the project began with the promise that the facility will be provided on time.
Instead, he claims they’ve been in and out of court, with ROKO now claiming that they completed up to 75 percent of the work prior to running into financial difficulties, but only delivered 55 percent. The Institute, he claims, wants the money remitted.
The institute requires two billion Shillings to complete the civil work, and according to Omagino, they have already received a USD 4.3 million gift from the Hungarian government for stocking the essential equipment.
Despite years of efforts to exit Mulago Specialized National Referral Hospital, the institute continues to operate from the overcrowded mother hospital.
Dr. James Magara, a dentist who was recently re-sworn in as chairman of the second nine-member board, warns that if they do not deliver a new home during their four-year term, which began yesterday, they will have failed to fulfill their duty.
The proposed facility, which will be built on a 10-acre plot of land in Naguru, is projected to cost USD 75 million when fully equipped. The government will contribute $5 million, with the balance coming from a loan.
The first board, according to Magara, was more concerned with establishing guiding principles, laws, and manuals that ensured the provision of up-to-date health care. They immediately began pressing for a larger piece of property to host the Institute, despite having already acquired two acres.
For an institution that aspires to become a global center of excellence for cardiac-related treatment, he thinks this isn’t enough.
Mulago Deputy Director Dr Rose Mary Byanyima, a Commissioner in the Ministry of Health, Prof. Damalie Nakanjako, the Principal College of Health at Makerere University, and Mr Grace Stuart Ndyareeba are among the new board’s members.
Following the passage of the Uganda Heart Institute Act, 2016, which authorized for its formation, the institute had its first board in 2017.