By Titus Kakembo
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has mobilized $10,000 (sh25m) from different operators in the tourism industry.
A charity walk from Old Kampala to Busega is pegged to coincide with the Uganda Martyrs Day, it is expected to attract pilgrims to contribute generously.
“There is lots more to Uganda besides the Martyrs,” the deputy UTB CEO, John Sempebwa said during a press conference at Uganda Heart Institute.
“Besides being known for gorilla tracking, bird watching and the source of the River Nile, responsible tourists are interested knowing how they can enable better the lives of the communities of people who reside in their popular destinations.”
The deputy UTB CEO, John Sempebwa PHOTO/Titus Kakembo
“The more reason UTB came up with this venture to help the sick heart patients who happen to be financially less endowed,” stressed Sempebwa.
“Show me a pilgrim trekking so many miles to Namugongo who will not want to leave behind sh5000 to save a life of a baby.”
Spempebwa hailed The New Vision, monetary organizations, airlines and other organization for their generosity through broadcasting or contributing to their cause effectively.
Addressing the journalist, Dr. John Omagino raised eyebrows with surprise when he said many children still die of minor heart complications that are treatable.
“Take your child for heart condition check-ups,” cautioned Omagino.
“The earlier the condition is detected the better. This enables treatment which may not be an open heart surgery. We have state of the art machines that cost government sh5b to procure and install.”
The head of cardiac surgery at UHI, Tom Mwambu said heart complications in children are very common.
“It occurs in one out of every one hundred children,” revealed Mwambu.
“This gives us a total of 16,000 children every year. And a half of these are very serious conditions. But unfortunately we have a capacity to handle only 2000 cases per year.”
Dr. Mwambu disclosed that soon going abroad for heart condition treatment is destined to be history.
“Especially after government footed the bills of the operation machine which can correct a condition without operating the patient,” said Dr. Mwambu.
“Like India, Uganda is destined to be a medical tourism destination for heart patients across the Great Lakes region.”
On a sad note, Dr. Omagino lamented about the loss to the country when a patient is taken abroad instead of being treated here.
“Whenever someone goes abroad,” said Dr. Omagino. “They deny medical students a chance to improve their knowledge at the school of medicine. Besides that, the operation is too expensive for the low income earners in our society.”
Parents were told to look out for symptoms of heart problems like slow growth, breathing problems, inability to suck breasts and constant fevers.
Dr.Tom Mwambu and Dr. Peter Lwabi address the press at Mulago Heart Institute.
Machines at Heart Institute in Mulago Hospita valued $2ml