The director of Mbarara regional hospital has called for the elevation of the hospital to a national referral status.
By Moses Walubiri
The director of Mbarara regional referral hospital has called for the elevation of the hospital to a national referral status to help address a string of problems constraining its operations.
In an interface with the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on Monday, Dr. George Upenytho attributed the chronic underfunding of the hospital and the perennial struggle to attract senior doctors to the low rank nature [regional referral] of the hospital.
“In order for the hospital to improve on performance, there is need for adequate staffing, funding and changing the hospital mandate from Regional to National Referral Hospital in line with ongoing infrastructure expansion,” Upenytho said.
Doctors operate on a patient at Mbarara community hospital in 2004. PHOTO/Kyomuhendo Muhanga
He revealed that the health facility has a staffing gap of 22 doctors at a senior level – a gap he said threatens to compromise the quality of medical services offered by the hospital due to “stress and burn out for the few available health workers”.
MPs heard that new health services started by the hospital last year are being offered by consultants attached to Mbarara University and other visiting professors (from Manchester and Massachusetts Universities) in collaboration with the aforementioned institution of learning.
The services include neuro-surgery, cancer treatment, dialysis, cardiology and computer tomography scan.
Among the high-level medical personnel the Health Service Commission (HSC) has failed to recruit for Mbarara hospital over the last two years include senior gynecologist, senior pediatrics, consultant (Anesthesia), consultant (Pathology), ophthalmologist, psychiatrist, and radiologist.
Efforts to reach HSC Director, Prof. Pius Okong, proved futile as his known cellphone number was unavailable. true
Mulago Hospital is Uganda’s only referral hospital, but the sheer number of patients its handling is stretching its ageing infrastructure to snapping point.
Other referral hospitals include Jinja, Mbale, and Lacor Hospital in Gulu.
Last year, MPs were involved in a budgeting stalemate with the executive over what they labeled as chronic understaffing of health facilities, especially health center IVs and IIIs.
The legislators wanted government to honor its ratification of the Abuja Protocol which obligates all signatory countries to devout a minimum of 15% of their annual national budget on their health sectors to help address the massive burden of ill-health facing African countries.
Leading a delegation from Mbarara hospital, Upenytho was at Parliament to answer queries raised in the Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 2009/10.
From regional to national status