Parliament has approved Government’s US$70 million loan request for the construction and equipping of Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) project.
Government plans to construct a well equipped state-of-the art home for UHI in Naguru with the intent to boost the responsiveness of Uganda's health systems to the rapidly increasing prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases.
During the Wednesday, 17 August 2022 plenary sitting, MPs unanimously approved the loan request which will see Government borrow US$ 20 million from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), US$30 million from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and another US$20 million from the OPEC fund for International Development (OFID) to fund the project.
Hon Robert Migadde, the Vice chairperson of the Committee on National Economy that processed the loan request, said that UHI is grappling with inadequate space for expansion of services.
“The current UHI facility is located on level 1, Block C of New Mulago Hospital with no room for expansion. For instance when the Committee visited the Uganda Heart Institute, there were equipment lying in the corridors because they could not be installed due to limited space,” Hon Migadde said.
Hon Migadde said that the Heart Institute has a modern cardiac cathetarisation facility and cardiac operation theatre with the capacity to handle over 100 operations per year. However, its operating capacity is at only 45 per cent due to limited supportive space and care services.
The new proposed UHI facility which will cost US$46 million, will comprise of the clinical block with nine floors, research and laboratories block with nine floors and another eight floor staff and maintenance block. Part of the loan money (US$17.4 million) will finance the supply, delivery and installation and commissioning of modern medical and non-medical equipment and furniture, while the rest of the funds (US$9.7 million) will cater for consultancy services, project management and contingency.
Hon Agnes Ameede (Butebo County) said the infrastructural gaps are greatly hampering operations at the Heart Institute and must be urgently addressed.
“I have been a client in the Heart Institute and most of the constraints mentioned are really hampering the performance of doctors at the Institute. However, I would have loved that we also expand regional facilities in our regional hospitals because it is hard for our constituents to come and seek services at the center,” Hon Ameede said.
Hon Joel Ssenyonyi (Nakawa West) saluted UHI Executive Director, Dr John Omagino for his passion in supporting cardiovascular services in the country, but emphasized the need for being efficacious in utilizing such monies.
“Many times this money is released for a worthy cause, but it ends up being swindled, misappropriated and it is the end user who suffers. We hope that there will be a difference this time around,” Hon Ssenyonyi said.
Hon Sarah Kayagi (Namisindwa District) said this loan will go a long way to save many Ugandans who are battling cardiovascular related diseases most of whom have to part with hefty sums of money to seek treatment from India and other countries.
Apparently, Uganda loses 500 children every year to heart related diseases due to the country’s crippled capacity to handle such complicated cases. “The Institute has the expertise and some of the equipment, but they do not have where to operate from…So the only way to save that Ugandan who can’t fly to Kenya and other places is by supporting the Uganda Heart Institute,” Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa said.
Uganda Heart Institute is a government body established by the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) Act, 2016 and charged with the mandate to undertake and coordinate the management of cardiovascular diseases in Uganda. The Heart Institute performed its first closed heart surgery on 4th April 1996, while the open-heart surgery was performed on 27th October 2007. The Institute has since then conducted several other sophisticated heart surgeries.