Kampala. President Museveni officially opened the Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital yesterday, saying this will bring to an end “medical tourism”.
He said Ugandans will have to be cured or die in the country.
“You are either saved here or die here so that whichever way, you do not have to disturb your family by having to repatriate you from India when you [are] no longer standing up,” Mr Museveni said.
Uganda spends more than Shs30b annually on treating privileged public officials abroad, but the figure could double if one considers private citizens who crowd source funds to facilitate their treatment in better facilities overseas.
The newly constructed 450-bed capacity hospital was opened to the public on September 17, in what government said was an “Independence Gift” to Ugandans.
The hospital has been fronted as one of the cures of congestion at the national referral hospital, Mulago, and is expected to offer first class care for both mothers and their babies.
Moneyed Ugandans can walk into the facility and access the services at a fee, officials said.
Mr Museveni appealed to Parliament to approve his request of increasing salaries for all scientists. He said the rest can “wait because Uganda is not ending”.
“I want you to agree to pay Ugandan scientists market rates. Not only for the region but also internationally. This has been my position. Differentiate between scientists and the rest of us,” Mr Museveni said.
Mr Museveni said the low pay recently nearly paralysed work at Soroti Flying School until he intervened.
“The administrators were insisting that they should get the same pay like the pilots. A pilot gets Shs25m. So, the pilots went away and the school was about to close, until I intervened,” he said.
Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng said the hospital has, since September 17, received 1,040 patients.
“The hospital will help decongest Mulago, enable women with complicated reproductive health problems to be treated, and reduce referrals abroad for specialised reproductive and neonatal treatment,” Dr Aceng said.
Dr Byarugaba Baterana, the Mulago Hospital executive director, promised to keep the hospital clean. He appealed to government to increase funding to facility.