KAMPALA. The ministry of health’s decision to split Mulago Hospital complex into five independent hospitals has divided opinion among top consultants with some casting doubt on the readiness of the plan to work.
A meeting convened by Health ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr Diana Atwine yesterday turned stormy as the technocrats made presentations on how they intended the plan work, beginning July in the new financial year.
Mulago Hospital Complex is currently under renovation with the contractors expected to hand over a refurbished complex to the government by June.
In her opening remarks, Dr Diana Atwine told the technocrats that government had less than two months to have the five hospitals up and running to avoid disappointing the public who have been waiting for the medical services.
The government proposes to have Mulago Hospital split into three independent hospitals comprising Mulago National Referral Hospital, Mulago National Specialized Hospital, and Mulago Specialized Maternal and Neonatal Hospital.
Kiruddu and Kawempe hospital were reconstructed between 2014 and 2016 to attain a regional referral status. The facilities have been acting as satellite hospital to lower Mulago National Referral Hospital currently under renovation.
Also, Kiruddu and Kawempe hospitals, which have been serving as satellite hospitals to lower Mulago National Referral Hospital since the renovation of the complex commenced, are to be transformed into independent regional referral hospitals under the Ministry of Health.
Soon after a presentation by the committee to operationalise Mulago National Referral Hospital, the meeting turned hot when they realised there was no readiness to offer service to patients. The better part of the meeting was also spent discussing where the five hospitals would get their health workforce, with some members suggesting that Mulago splits its current workforce to enable the proposed entities start operation.
“The purpose of this meeting is to look into the five hospitals we going to have and this will gives us an opportunity to have recruitment by making a case to the Ministry of Finance. But I don’t see the bed capacity and the structure to support training,” Dr Atwine said in reaction to the Mulago presentation, which proposed new infrastructure that were not in place.
Continuous questioning of the Mulago presentation by Dr Atwine prompted Dr Byarugaba Baterana, the current executive director of Mulago, to respond that the proposed budget indicates no readiness to have the proposed hospitals operate independently, but rather remain as mere departments of Mulago.
“Upper Mulago is not ready to be a hospital on its own and it extremely difficult to have over 600 patients before the facility is remodeled,” Dr Baterana said.
He said the 900-bed capacity National specialized hospital, and the 420-bed capacity Women’s hospital should start as departments of Mulago due to lack of budgetary allocations in the financial year 2018/2019.
At this point, Dr Baterana reminded the meeting that 75 acres where the facilities will be hosted belong to the Mulago National Referral Hospital as the parent entity.
But Dr Atwine opposed the suggestion insisting the five facilities have to start operations as independent entities using the skeletal staff available if government is to make any budgetary allocations.
Going by the presentations, the new National Specialized Hospital will need 1,707 staff, Kirruddu 500, Kawempe 530, while the Specialized Women’s Hospital will need about 788 staff.
Dr Doreen Birabwa Male, the deputy executive director of Mulago Hospital, who made a presentation for the new Mulago Specialized Hospital, said the facility was ready but the hospital lacked both the required human resource and the laws on organ transplant to commence operations.
Also, a recent advert by KCCA calling for applications to fill positions at Kiruddu and Kawempe hospitals raised eyebrows with the various operational committees indicating that they were confused.
Ministry of Health under-secretary Ronald Segawa Gyagenda asked the meeting to disregard the advert by the Health Service Commission calling for applications to fill the positions on behalf of KCCA.
“The Cabinet has made a decision to make Kiruddu and Kawempe hospitals referral hospitals, so I think the advert was made in error and should be cancelled,” Mr Gyagenda said.
“The public is anxiously waiting for services but we have been postponing. For Mulago to appear not ready…come July 1; if there is no National Referral Hospital, we shall have a crisis,” Mr Gagyenda said.