What you need to know:
- Dr Mwebesa announced that health facilities such as Lubaga and Mulago National Referral Hospital will soon commence organ and tissue transplants.
- The State Minister of Health in Charge of General Duties, Ms Anifa Kawooya said heath Minister, Dr Jane Aceng affirmed that she had received an application from Lubaga hospital requesting to be designated and accredited for organ transplants and that the council would undertake its mandate at an appropriate time.
As more Ugandans continue to struggle to access organ transplants abroad, Lubaga hospital, Kampala has asked government to expedite the process of accrediting its organ transplant centre, to increase access to the lifesaving services.
The hospital’s executive director, Dr Julius Luyimbazi said bringing services closer, would relieve a big number of patients who are currently serving on dialysis in various hospitals, which is quite expensive.
"One of the services that we can provide alongside the government, is organ transplants. Last year, we applied to the Ministry of Health to designate and accredit our centre so that we can collaborate with the Ministry and Mulago National referral Hospital to offer organ transplant services," Dr Luyimbazi said at the 125 anniversary of the hospital in Kampala.
“We are ready. We have the personnel, the equipment, skills, everything is set for us. All that we require now is for the Ministry of Health to come and accredit us and designate us as a transplant centre to give us guidance. As soon as that happens, the country should be assured that we are ready to offer organ transplant services," he further stated.
He noted that the hospital has been able to provide, quality specialized, general, curative and preventive services to the country for 125 years and was recently accredited by the Council for Health Services Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA), making it the second internationally accredited hospital in Uganda, after International Hospital Kampala (IHK).
In August 14, 2023, Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director General of Health Services commissioned a Shs1 billion Dr Rita Moser Transplant Theatre at Lubaga hospital.
Dr Mwebesa announced that health facilities such as Lubaga and Mulago National Referral Hospital will soon commence organ and tissue transplants.
He noted that the ministry was awaiting on the Uganda Organ Donation and Organ Transplant Council to assess the standards of the facility.
The ministry has the mandate to appoint a transplant council that is in charge of the accreditation process.
Some of the requirements for organ transplant centres include two theatres; one for the donor and the other for the patient; a standard intensive care unit, recovery room, laboratories and specialists to perform transplants.
So far, only Mulago national referral hospital has been able to perform one kidney transplant. More five patients await the same procedure at no cost.
Dr Luzimbazi said all is set at Lubaga, but they are only waiting for a green light from the council to commence transplants.
“The country has so many people suffering from chronic kidney failure, as you can see from the dialysis centers line at Mulago, Kiruddu, Lubaga and Nsambya. All of them are waiting for a solution that is permanent and that is kidney transplant. Majority cannot afford transplants done a broad," he observed.
According to Dr Mwebesa , organ transplants done at Mulago will be free of charge while those in private hospitals will be done at a cost less than what Ugandans have been spending abroad, which is in the range of Shs60 million.
He noted that the law was put in place and assented to by the President on March 15 and became effective on August 1, 2023 and that the council must assess the readiness of these hospitals.
Dr Mwebesa said on a weekly basis, he clears about six patients who need to undergo kidney transplant and from the documents, he has come across, one patient requires $17,000 (about Shs65 million) for the transplant alone.
Dr Michael Okello, the director of the Organ Transplant Theatre at Lubaga Hospital, said last year that once they are cleared by the council, they will offer kidney, liver, and cornea transplants.
Dr Okello said since the current law requires organs to be extracted from living donors, the cornea will be imported until government grants them permission to harvest corneas from corpses.
The State Minister of Health in Charge of General Duties, Ms Anifa Kawooya said heath Minister, Dr Jane Aceng affirmed that she had received an application from Lubaga hospital requesting to be designated and accredited for organ transplants and that the council would undertake its mandate at an appropriate time.
“At an appropriate time, when the council has been appointed, I have no doubt, it will accredit your centre. We shall walk the journey together," Ms Kawooya said.
The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr Paul Ssemogerere challenged health workers to emulate Jesus Christ by always to at the disposal of patients who are in need of healthcare services.
"The people of Uganda continue to be sick, but we pray that they may find good health workers who are available to serve them. Being a health worker is a gift that comes from God and they are representing Jesus Christ," Dr Ssemogerere said
He commended the founders of Lubaga hospital whom he said were inspired by the spirit of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, thought of caring for the sick.