Separation of conjoined twins a key milestone

Saturday November 21 2020

A team of Ugandan specialists at Mulago National Referral Hospital conduct an operation to separate Siamese twins yesterday. Photo/Ministry of Health

By Editor

On Wednesday, a team of 20 Ugandan specialists at Mulago National Referral Hospital conducted a complicated medical surgery to separate Siamese twins, in what has been described as a major breakthrough in the medical field in the country.  

Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago hospital executive director, said they decided to separate the twins from Uganda because they realised the surgery is not complicated, and that the country now has the expertise to perform that kind of operation. 

These kinds of medical services will reduce referrals abroad and save funds. For instance, this operation would have cost at least $100,000 (Shs370m) in India, it was reported.  
Seven years ago, conjoined twins could only be taken abroad for surgery due to lack of equipment and specialised personnel in the country. 

Ugandan medical specialists have been highly rated in the region, reason there has been brain drain of the professionals who end up in other countries due to low wages they are paid here.

In real sense, Uganda now needs to invest in its professionals, lest we lose them. 
Lip service, empty promises and sloganeering will not deliver the country to the middle income status unless there is a deliberate and action-based effort to execute the policies. 

Uganda needs to get its priorities right. We have been in the news not for the right reasons lately. We have been politicking for a long time, we have put too much in procuring tear gas to quell protests. 


We have armed ourselves to the teeth but have neglected to employ the same zeal in goods and service delivery. We have paid lip service where action mattered most, in areas that touch our humanity, life, education and medical care.

We are, therefore, all praise for our 20 medical personnel, and indeed, all our medical practitioners for this major feat in the medical world. 

After the renovation of Mulago National Referral Hospital, with better equipment, we should witness more of such successes and endeavours that will help uplift our medical station. 

This will also go a long way in saving money always spent in medical tourism, where patients are given referrals abroad yet such an operation would have been conducted within the country if only we equipped our referral hospitals across the country and remunerated our doctors well and provided them with sufficient protective gear. 

The Finance ministry notes that the country loses Shs450b to medical tourism annually and the Health ministry says every year, we spend Shs30b on sending ministers, Members of Parliament, and senior government officials abroad for treatment.