By Jackson Oboth
We all know that many affluent Ugandans, when they get sick, travel abroad for treatment. It’s the same story throughout much of our continent and it’s nothing to be proud of. The good news, if you want to hear it through the cacophony of election season charge and counter-charge, is that better health care is on the way here at home, and not just for a lucky few.
This is a story the world needs to hear, regardless of who stands to gain politically. Unless, that is, you want Uganda to continue being slandered by people like Ann Coulter who categorise us as a failed state. We’re tired of that here at Uganda Sasa.
Last week President Museveni and the Aga Khan, imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, laid the cornerstone for a new teaching hospital in Kampala, on ground provided by the government. The Aga Khan Development Network is committing US$ 15 billion to the project (UGX 1.5 trillion). The first wing, with 150 beds, is due for completion in 2020. Ultimately, the facility will have 600 beds. That, for Uganda, is a game changer.
It comes on top of plans to commission three new referral hospitals to receive patients from district hospitals, 13 of which are now being upgraded, and from the 193 county-level and 930 sub-county level health centres currently in operation. And let’s not forget the government’s immunization programme that’s helping eradicate nine killer diseases.
All these interventions point in one direction. The will is there to tackle the country’s health problems. The fact that life expectancy in Uganda has improved from 43 years in 1986 to 57.8 years today is proof something is being done right. There’s lots more to do, of course, especially with regard to the availability and affordability of medicines. Pay and conditions of health care workers also need to improve.
With consistent interventions in the right direction, I am confident we will see significant improvements over the next five years.