Why Are We Gifting Death With Ugandans? [opinion]

Musician Harriet Kisakye was on Monday buried at St Gyaviira Catholic church cemetery in Bunamwaya. Kisakye’s last days in hospital were troubling. The cost of keeping her on a life-support machine was, I think, Shs 5 million, yet the family had only Shs 1 million. Col Kizza Besigye contributed Shs 4 million and this medical process began.

The lord mayor, Ssalongo Erias Lukwago, and Masaka municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga, who visited her a day before her death, told me this expensive care was too little too late. She now required dialysis, which Mulago national referral hospital could not administer because of lack of a dialysis machine.

To keep her on a dialysis machine, Shs 600,000 was required per day. Col Besigye again contacted International Hospital Kampala (IHK) who agreed and eventually took her away. This hospital is owned by an Irishman, Dr Ian Clarke. Are you still surprised that he was elected mayor of Makindye division?

It is here that Harriet Kisakye breathed her last. IHK, somehow, has become the last referral but, of course, for those who can afford it. They even run an air ambulance, which Mulago has never dreamt of. In next year’s budget, police has been allocated Shs 20.7 billion (part payment) for an additional two twin-engine helicopters.

The other day one of the police helicopters flew junior minister Ronald Kibuule to his constituency. It is these sorts of things for which we must acquire two more twin-engine helicopters. More regime ministers want to overwhelm their electorate, especially now that campaigns have begun in earnest.

Don’t ask me why Kisakye was referred to IHK. It is more urgent to acquire more police helicopters to deliver ministers to functions. In the end, official figures show that as a country, we spend Shs 204 billion on treatment abroad for both people working in government and private sectors.

Daily Monitor reported about this, quoting the ministry of health permanent secretary Dr Asuman Lukwago. And this is a revision earlier estimates had put the figure at Shs 400 billion. And do you know what, the ministry of health, in a 350-page 2015 annual policy statement presented to parliament this month, says it needs just Shs 175 billion to fix the basic requirements that make our people seek treatment abroad.

This money is not available. What is available is money to send public officials to Aga Khan hospital in Nairobi, India, London and other capitals. Ministry of health wants to improve cancer services, renal dialysis, imaging and radiology, surgery, lab equipment and ophthalmology. This money is not provided for in the budget.

And even the most basic equipment is either absent or not repaired. Ministry of health has not been provided with Shs 49 billion to maintain equipment in regional and general hospitals. Instead, it has been provided with only Shs 7.9 billion. And to revamp infrastructure in hospitals hospitals, the ministry needs Shs 820 billion but has been provided with zero.

Yet on a monthly basis, we spend Shs 8 billion to execute a war in South Sudan. We went there in December 2013 you can add up the figures. That is where we are as a country!

I know some will blame me for presenting you with the same figures every now and then. It is a topic revisited each time we lose a dear one. Can you imagine even the late supreme mufti, Sheikh Zubair Kayongo was treated at Case Clinic and his samples referred to different places in town because of lack of a functioning national health facility?

That Mulago hospital was built and handed over to us by colonialists in 1961. All the equipment they put in is obsolete, outdated or broken down. And for 30 years, our gman, the revolutionary, has been building the military and police to quell internal dissent.

The reminder of the taxes collected is to buy off the opposition and compromise any emerging or existing centre of power. I hope nobody will ask me to propose a solution because I have told you what the problem is. Kisakye is just one soul, but think of those being sexually and violently abused in the Middle East and Asia. Think of those Africans dying in hundreds while crossing the ocean to Europe or those being lynched in South Africa.

I nearly shed tears when I saw energetic young Ugandans on the streets of South Africa, selling what they call sexual enhancement herbs, or when I saw our youth sweating in the blistering sun on the streets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

There is a picture circulating on the MPs’ email addresses, of a young girl scantily dressed and being hit by two men in the Middle East. We are told she is a Ugandan but even if she is not. And with all these problems, another African idiot is defying his country’s constitution to stand for another term in office, plunging the country into chaos.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

Source : The Observer


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