The other day a picture of the dearly departed “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”(RIP) surfaced showing the then President recuperating post surgery in Mulago hospital. I was personally taken a back because I had no clue that Mulago was once capable of treating such a ‘high level’ member of the mighty of Ugandan society.
Photo credit: Hussein Lumumba Amin on Facebook
Every passing day on several social media plaforms from Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Ugandans are crowdfunding and appealing for help to take one person then the next to ‘outside countries’ to seek much needed life saving medical attention. Whereas Ugandans are known for their generosity, and indeed have responded well to these humanitarian calls is a testament of what united people can achieve for others and themselves.
The truth is that these interventions can only be for a limited time only. The citizenry will grow weary or tired, become less responsive and also frustrated. We need to rethink our health care urgently.
The truth is that for decades now, the entire healthcare system has been ailing. Understaffed, under renumerated, poor working conditions, drugs and equipment lacking over all. This has reduced the public’s confidence in these facilities. A journey to the hospital or health center must be one the journeys any Ugandan is terrified of making probably competing with a journey along Masaka road aka Massacre road.
Without a functional healthcare system, and inadequate investment in primary health care to address the issues of prevention, what remains is functional is largely overwhelmed by large numbers of people. And with the skyrocketing costs of healthcare churning out profit for the private healthcare establishments, Ugandans need health insurance(to access even the mere of basic services); in theory I don’t know how the health insurance would work for all so I leave that to the expert
Back to my case, there are things that can be done to remedy the current situation which include but not limited to;
1. Ban all foreign medical treatment of public officials using taxpayer monies. This I hope should help them focus on the investments necessary to boost and heal the healthcare system, most importantly attracting our own doctors and stopping the massive brain drain.
2. Revitalization of healthcare by focusing on PHC to reduce the burden on major health systems.
3. Capacity building will be key here, to ensure we have doctors from Uganda trained anywhere in the world in the various specialist fields so that that medical care often sought by especially politicians on the account of taxpayers is available for all here.