Medical practitioners who are registered under their umbrella body the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) want the Uganda Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah to champion improvement of Uganda’s healthcare system once he returns from Seattle, USA after treatment.
Oulanyah is currently undergoing cancer treatment in a hospital in Seattle City, where he was rushed on February 3, 2022, because of deteriorating health. Oulanyah was first admitted at Mulago National Referral Hospital but his doctors recommended his transfer to receive specialised treatment.
Medics say Oulanyah should using legislation since he is a speaker of Parliament fix the fundamental failings within Uganda’s medical system.
He was flown aboard the national carrier, Uganda Airline Airbus A330-800 at a cost of US$ 563,000 (Shillings 2 billion) to receive high-end medical care on taxpayers’ money, sparking protests by Ugandans at home and those living in the USA.
Dr Samuel Odong Oledo, the UMA President, says upon his return, Oulanyah owes Ugandans a duty to spearhead legislation that addresses the fundamental failings in Uganda’s health system including the poorly equipped health facilities, low paid medics and constant stock out of drugs.
Dr Oledo argues that several competent Ugandan Doctors have left the country for greener pastures, saying there is a need for the government to incentivize their services to enable them to return to serve at home. He pointed out that health sector funding continues to dwindle coupled with reduced foreign aid. He asked the Government to expedite the rollout of the national health insurance scheme to salvage the ailing health sector.
On Thursday last week, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Annet Among told Members of Parliament -MPs during plenary that Oulanyah was recuperating. At the same time, clerics, local leaders and the public in Acholi convened prayers at Gulu City Council yard to pray for his quick recovery.
Oulanyah also took his Twitter handle@JacobOulanyah and thanked Ugandans for their prayers and concerns about his wellbeing. “Fellow Ugandans, my deepest appreciation for your well-wishes and prayers; I wish you God’s blessings,” he tweeted.
However, the Tweet attracted mixed responses from his social media followers who implored him to advocate for the upgrade of health facilities at home with better and specialized services upon his return. They argued that not all citizens are privileged to be flown abroad for specialized healthcare. In 2019, the Government earmarked guaranteed a loan of Shillings 1.4 trillion for SPV Finasi Roko led by Enrica Pinetti an Italian Investor to construct Lubowa International Specialized Hospital in Wakiso District. To date, no commendable work has been reported at the site.
Uganda continues to spend US$ 150 million approximately Shillings 526 billion annually to fly high ranking dignitaries abroad for specialized medical treatment at the expense of the taxpayers’ money. Founded in 1964, UMA is the national professional umbrella body of over 7,000 doctors exclusively drawn from duly registered medical practitioners both within the country and those in the diaspora.