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Uganda to get sh1.4 trillion world-class specialised hospital

By John Odyek, Mary Karugaba, Moses Mulondo

Added 21st March 2019 08:24 AM

After weeks of harsh debate Parliament has approved financial support for the construction of the hospital despite protests from a section of MPs from both sides of the House.

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An artistic impression of the facility (File Photo)

After weeks of harsh debate Parliament has approved financial support for the construction of the hospital despite protests from a section of MPs from both sides of the House.

MPs have said the construction of a sh1.4 trillion world class specialised hospital at Lubowa, Kampala to handle complicated medical cases might go a long way in reducing cases of Ugandans flying abroad to seek for treatment.

MPs said it was expensive to fly helpers of sick people to accompany them and even the burden of traffic jams, flights and long journeys impacts on the health of patients seeking treatment abroad.

Although many MPs favoured the construction of the specialised hospital with the support of government, many also said it was important to improve existing health facilities before constructing new ones.

Anthony Okello (Kioga County) narrated to Parliament how he spent sh75m to fly to New Dehli in India to remove fluids that had accumulated in his brain. “I was forced to fly o India. If we had a hospital here I would not need to do that,” Okello said.

The MPs said this during a debate of a proposal from state minister for finance, David Bahati requesting Parliament to allow Government issue promissory notes of up to $379 m (sh1.4 trillion) for building the hospital designed as a public private partnership.

A promissory note is a financial instrument that contains a written promise by one party to pay another party a specified sum of money, either on demand or at a specified date.

After weeks of harsh debate Parliament has approved financial support for the construction of the hospital despite protests from a section of MPs from both sides of the House.

Syda Bbumba, chairperson of the committee on the national economy presented the report of the committee on the project which supported it.

Bbumba informed the House chaired by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga that Government signed a partnership agreement with the developers of the project Finasi/Roko Construction SPV. She said construction would take two years and after operating the project for six years they will hand it over to government.

Bbumba explained that Government spends sh300b annually to treat people abroad and hoped that once the facility was built the money will be saved.

She said the hospital that will serve the region and offer services for conditions such as cancer, kidney transplants, heart and brain surgery and other conditions requiring specialised treatment not available in Uganda.

She said patients would pay for the services but a subsidised wing would be created for Ugandans who are unable to pay.

However Betty Nambooze (Mukono North) presented a minority report which opposed the approval of the project. The report was signed by William Nzoghu (Busongora North) and Bernard Atiku (Ayivu County).

Nambooze said they were not opposed to the project of such nature to provide specialised health services but they were opposed to the way it was designed. Nambooze said the law does not allow government to guarantee loans for private companies except public companies.

Nambooze said the promoters of the project have no experience in specialised medical services but were seeking profit. “Government is already incurring a penalty of defaulting on the project before the project takes off.

Government should look for funds upgrade the regional referral hospitals,” Nambooze said. Nambooze said the project was unfair to Uganda but gives 100% loan guarantee, returns and profits to the investors.

MPs questioned the financial capacity of the investor. Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo) said the Government said the investor would only be guaranteed of patients but not money. “Who then smuggled in the issues of finances? There is something wrong here,” Ogwal said.

Kadaga asked that a low cost section be created for Ugandans at the hospital since they are the ones providing the funds from their taxes and might be denied access if it is too expensive for them. “Who will fund Ugandans to the super class hospital,” Kadaga asked.

 

Kadaga expressed that it is only the 300,000 civil servants and the MPs who might afford services in the planned hospital if it does not create room for not well to do Ugandans.

MPs asked why such lucrative projects are always located in Kampala and not in Lira, Gulu or any other district.

 

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