Despite being located near Murchison Falls National Park, Masindi hospital lacks facilities to treat tourists.
Dr George Bateganya, the hospital’s medical superintendent said the facility, constructed in 1922, has a 100 bed-capacity but has now risen to 160.
Dr Bateganya said the hospital’s catchment area has spread to Buliisa, Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Hoima and Kiryandongo districts as well as patients from DR Congo and South Sudan although it was designed to serve only Masindi.
“We receive mainly cases of malaria, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, trauma, HIV/Aids and intestinal worms,” he said.
Dr Bateganya said on any given day, there are at least 145 patients yet the total staffing is 51 nurses and midwives against the required 118.
When this newspaper visited the facility recently, it found a congested antenatal ward with dysfunctional water sinks acting as baby cotes and the main theater poorly ventilated.
Dr John Turyagaruka, the district health officer, said most tourists prefer getting treatment from private health facilities because the hospital offers common services from those of Ugandans.
“Most tourists sleep in Masindi Town before heading to the game park. When they fall sick, most of them require special services yet we do not have such facilities in the hospital,” he said on telephone.
Tourism is Uganda’s largest foreign exchange earner.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, last year, earnings from the sector rose to $805m from $662m in 2010.