Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal hospital is still operating without key specialists three years after it was glamorously launched as a facility that epitomizes everything modern in a 21st-century health service.
Dr Evelyn Nabunya, the Executive Director of the Hospital told their first board of 12 members that was inaugurated on Thursday that the hospital that is supposed to handle sophisticated procedures especially in fertility-care such as In vitro fertilization (IVF) has only half the staff – 376 of the planned 880 members of staff.
She said they don’t have a single embryologist, a fertility specialist who is supposed to create viable embryos to either be used in IVF right away or to be frozen for later use. Also, they have just one anesthesiologist and one paediatrician who work together with six obstetricians and gynaecologists.
They lack radiologists, intensivists and critical care specialists and yet they run an intensive care unit for both adults and the little babies also called a Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
When it comes to an embryologist, Nabunya says even if they have not had a supporting legal framework to start IVF, they have asked the Health Service Commission to hire for them although she notes that get such specialists are still an expensive toll considering that training one such specialist in India requires up to USD 25,000 and about USD 64,000 in the US.
Romano Byaruhanga, the just sworn-in Chairman of the Board says that sorting the human resources issues is high on their agenda as they assume office. He said the area of newborn care is the most hit and there’s still the burden of death within 28 days after birth.
However, Dr Charles Olaro, the Director Curative Services in the Ministry of Health said they are aware of the challenges but had first focused on ensuring that they have all the right infrastructure in place. He said, slowly, they have started stocking the hospital with health workers noting that this financial year they have been given additional funds for recruitment.
Other members of the board include CEHURD’s Moses Mulumba, Dr Clementia Nakabitto a Researcher based at the Makerere University John Hopkins research collaboration (MUJHU), Dr Sarah Zalwango who heads medical services at KCCA and Prof. Annette Nakimuli who heads the Health Institute.