Views from Fiona: A Call to the Bataka

Views from Fiona: A Call to the Bataka


A call to the sons and daughters of the soil.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: August 7, 2006


There has been a surge in heart disease especially in children and some adults increasing the amount of people needing urgent heart operations that the biggest referral hospital- Mulago cannot perform. This has robbed the country many young souls who cannot simply afford the cost of flying the patient either to South Africa or India for the much-needed operation to save their lives. The parents and relatives of patients normally go through hell to raise that money and often times come short while they helplessly watch their beloved wither and die. The norm here is to fund raise either through the media or other means to get the money. The lucky few are bailed out by their employers.

Between December 2002 and January 2003 I watched my friend die while his family was trying to raise money to take him to India. His father was shattered because when he had managed getting the funds required, his son died in his arms a day before he could be flown out. Now many families go through such hallowing experience and you wonder what the ministry of health has done to put an end to the situation.

The Heart Institute at Mulago has the equipment to correct some heart diseases but they lack personnel to do it. A few years back Mulago hospital management said they had sent some doctors to train in heart surgery but the question is how long will our people continue to die before help is availed? Why should they incur costs to train doctors when some Ugandan heart surgical specialists are prying their trade out of the country? Cant the ministry together with the government provide a good package to the sons of soil to come back home and treat their very own? For example Dr. A. Kiyingi [on trial] is a cardiovascular specialist who has been working in Australia. So are many Ugandan Doctors abroad who could be enticed to come back.

Walking the halls of Heart Institute and ICU there is a somber mood as patients wallow in pain and their relatives suffer with them. It is heart wrenching and I call upon the government to urgently do something. Life is precious.

The cost of an operation abroad is $10,000 on wards (about 18 million shillings), which is impractical and impossible for a Ugandan to afford. For most peasants who earn less than 1$ dollar a month it is an uphill task to raise that kind of money- save for a few who are lucky and their organizations chip in. Others fail to raise the money or their beloved ones die while in the process of looking for the money.

The Ugandan government has a civic duty to its nationals to avail them with affordable medical solutions and so far it has failed. The Minister of Health as a political head together with the Director of Mulago should press the central government to act urgently.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: August 7, 2006
Fiona Abaasa is a visitor of UGPulse.com.

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