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Govt spent sh455b on medical bills abroad in 2016

By Pascal Kwesiga

Added 27th March 2019 04:18 PM

In 2014, the government spent $73m (sh270b) on treatment and $113m (sh418b) on travel and upkeep for its patients abroad

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Secretary to the treasury, Keith Muhakanizi. File Photo

In 2014, the government spent $73m (sh270b) on treatment and $113m (sh418b) on travel and upkeep for its patients abroad

The government sent 5,000 people for treatment in India in 2016. According to the secretary to the treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, the government spent $123m (sh455b) on the treatment of its employees in India alone that year.

In total, the finance ministry said today, 8,200 persons applied for medical visas at the Indian High Commission in Kampala in 2016.

Earlier, in 2014, the government spent $73m (sh270b) on treatment and $113m (sh418b) on travel and upkeep for its patients abroad.

Defending the planned multi-billion hospital project to be established in Lubowa in Wakiso district, Muhakanizi on Wednesday said the International Specialised Hospital of Uganda (ISHU) would stop the haemorrhage of foreign exchange from Uganda.

But the project remains in the eye of the storm over, among others, claims of cost inflation and the colossal amount of money the government will have to pay in interest on the loan for the project.

The Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has proposed a review of what it called the exaggerated cost of the project or the scheme be dropped and resources directed to the refurbishment effort at Mulago National Referral Hospital.

Muhakanizi stated that a decision was taken to channel the resources spent on treatment abroad on building a world-class health facility to treat complicated cases for Ugandans and nationals from other African countries.

n artistic impression of the proposed hospital ourtesy hotoAn artistic impression of the proposed hospital. Courtesy Photo

 

“Let anyone challenge us on the cost. The 6.4% interest rate is small in the market. People are borrowing at higher interest rates,” Muhakanizi said.

The specialised hospital will include a 264-bed hospital, an 82-room budget hotel, a 5000-seater conference hall, a health training school and staff housing to be established on the 85,000 square meters of land.

These facilities are estimated to cost $249.9m (over sh926b) including medicines for one year and training of Ugandan health professionals.

There will also be an additional $129.81m (over sh481b) cost representing interest rate of 6.49% on the loan to be secured by the project’s joint venture contractors; FINASI and ROKO. This will bring the total cost to $379.71m (over sh1.4trillion).

The government has allowed the joint venture partners through irrevocable promissory notes to secure funding for the project and committed to repaying the money expended on the facility over six years after construction.

The construction of the hospital is expected to last two years.

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