By John Odyek and Mary Karugaba
Parliament has approved government’s request to borrow a sh75b loan from the Islamic Development Bank for the construction of a modern, specialized maternal and neonatal health care unit at Mulago Referral Hospital.
State minister for finance Aston Kajara said the loan was expected to reduce high maternal and neonatal deaths in the country.
“The country requires investment from development partners to address the requirements of modernizing and expanding its health services, infrastructure and systems to sustain the MDG gains. Uganda will not reach health related targets set for child and maternal mortality reduction unless reforms in the health sector are done,” Kajara said.
Kajara added said that Uganda is expected to achieve some of the MDGs targets related to poverty reduction, HIV/Aids, universal school enrollment and gender inequality. Maternal mortality stands at 453 deaths per 100,000 births.
Kajara said the immediate beneficiaries of the project are Ugandan women and children below 15 years.
“The project will facilitate access by women to specialized health services, complications of living with HIV/Aids, emergency response to gender based violence, early intervention of cancer care and diabetes which has high a higher incidence among women,” he said.
The funds will build the Women’s Hospital, Mulago to be a referral center for obstetrics and gynaecology patients referred from the lower level health facilities.
Kajara noted that the project would improve the national health indicators through improvement of access to quality health care. The project will be implemented in four years once the funds are available. Government will provide counter- part funding of sh8b.
However MPs expressed concern at the poor completion of some projects and corruption that has affected many projects.
Jack Wamanga, Mbale municipality MP warned that the bank had set very stiff conditions relating to corruption.
“In case the bank determines that any person or entity is engaged in corrupt practices, coercion, collusive practices or fraudulent practices then the bank will cancel the funding,” he said.
Alex Ndeezi, representative for people with disabilities urged government to construct the facility taking into consideration designs that are accessible by people with disabilities.
“Many hospitals are not accessible by people with disabilities and some have facilities which are not functional,” Ndeezi said.
Joseph Ssewungu Kalungu West MP asked government to put emphasis on refurbishing all the regional referral hospitals as a step to decongest Mulago Hospital.