The World Bank has approved a Shs260 billion loan for Uganda to fix its dilapidated public hospitals. Uganda applied for the loan in 2008. The money will specifically be used to equip and refurbish selected hospitals, improve referral systems by ensuring availability of ambulances and improve operational systems of the medical units.
The loan was approved by the bank’s board of directors on Tuesday in Washington DC. A May 25 statement from the bank said although Uganda has registered improvements in its health outcomes, the pace has been slower than in many countries within the region.
Health indicators like maternal and child mortality which stand at 435 per 100,000 births and 76 per 1000 births respectively, the bank said, have remained unacceptably high. “Maternal and child mortality remain high in Uganda, yet many of the causes are avoidable. The project will therefore help to strengthen and improve the delivery of maternal and child health services,” said Dr Peter Okwero, the project’s team leader.
Ms Kundhavi Kadiresan, the bank’s country manager for Uganda said: “This project addresses some of the major bottlenecks impacting the provision of efficient health services to the Ugandan people. We hope that through this project, the bank will contribute towards improving service-delivery at the frontline, and support the government in making providers accountable for services delivered to clients.”
The Commissioner for Planning in the Ministry of Health, Dr Francis Runumi, told Daily Monitor yesterday that part of the money will be used to rehabilitate and equip 19 general hospitals, among them Moroto and Mubende which will be elevated to regional referral level status.
Electricity and water
According to Dr Runumi, most of the hospitals which will be refurbished were built between 1967 and 1970 and have not had any major renovations over the last four decades.
Another 27 health centre IVs will also benefit from the loan. “We are happy that the bank has approved this loan because it’s a big boost to our health sector. Two years from now, Ugandans should be able to see good functional hospitals with facilities like electricity, water and good theatres,” Dr Runumi said.
He explained that the money will also address human resource concerns particularly the current high absenteeism of health workers. A 2010 World Bank study reveals that widespread absenteeism is costing the Ugandan health sector up to Shs26 billion annually. The bank estimates 37 per cent of health workers are absent daily.