The Parliament of Uganda has approved a proposal for government to guarantee a loan by a private investor worth US$379.71 million (approximately UGX1.4 trillion) to finance the construction of the International Specialised Hospital of Uganda in Lubowa, along Entebbe road.
Finasi/Roko are the beneficiary companies in the deal. Government says that Roko construction will build the hospital complex over a two year period, while Italian companies Finasi in Partnership with Papa Giovani from Milan will manage the hospital over an 8-year period, after which they are expected to hand it over to government.
The Minister of State for Finance, David Bahati who presented a statement to Parliament defended the proposal saying it would boost medical tourism, save the country and hundreds of thousands of people from losing money travelling abroad for complicated health procedures.
“This hospital will build the capacity of the country to treat complex cases like organ and bone marrow transplant and it will promote medical tourism,” Bahati added.
He also noted that the hospital will target and reduce cases of Ugandans who fly out of the country to seek medical attention abroad especially in India and South Africa.
“A report on the surveillance of disease burden in Uganda conducted by the
Ministry of Health in FY 2017/2018, revealed that 7.3 per cent of all out-patient hospital visits – equivalent to 2.7 million cases, are due to NCDs,” he said during plenary sitting on 12 March 2019.
Bahati added that this has driven the demand for infrastructure and human resource for health required to offer highly specialized treatment and medical care to combat the burden of NCDs.
Before passing of the motion, the proposal received support from a number of MPs including Beatrice Anywar (Ind, Kitgum Municipality) Dr. Michael Bukenya, from Kasanda who supported the matter saying that the specialised hospital will cut down on the costs involved in travelling abroad to seek treatment.
“The ordinary person who cannot travel abroad to get specialised services will be able to get this treatment locally and cheaper other than dying because they cannot travel,” she said.
Dr. Michael Bukenya, the Chairperson of the Committee on Health, said that the country will definitely benefit from the construction of a specialised hospital to treat NCDs.
“I got statistics from the Indian High Commission stating that from 2015 to 2016, 3200 Ugandans sought medical attention in India and over 4800 between 2016 to 2017,” he said.
Dr. Bukenya added that these figure exclude people who went through the Medical Board. He said that on average a person needs US$25,000 to spend without the cost of travel and their caretaker.
Before the vote Speaker Kadaga read out a letter from President Yoweri Museveni supporting the move.
However, a section of MPs opposed the idea saying that it was very expensive and that the money should be used to revamp the existing medical facilities.
Parliament’s approval however came despite a petition by some of Buganda royals petitioned Speaker Kadaga alleging that they were wrongfully dispossed of their rights to the land on which the hospital project is planned.
In a March 5 petition to Speaker Kadaga, the royals led by Princes Steven Saava Kikonyogo and
Jjunju Fredrick said: “All transactions on that land were made in bad faith with the view of alienating the land from the estate of the late Yusuf Kiweewa.