As Uganda strives to attain middle-income status, medical practitioners have noted with concern the need for a healthy and productive population to drive development.
This was declared at the just-concluded second grand medical doctors' conference organized by the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) at Hotel Africana last week.
The conference provided an opportunity for doctors and other health sector stakeholders to reflect on key health issues and chart a way forward for partnering government and the private sector to contribute to universal health coverage and equitable development.
The key issue was the increasing threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) especially cancer, which has become one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity, with catastrophic expenditure and anguish.
Dr Fred Bisso, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) president, said this year's theme, "Promoting Healthy Lives" was carefully chosen to respond to the growing menace of NCDs in Uganda.
"The role of lifestyle in the causation of these NCDs cannot be over-emphasized," said Bisso. "I invite you to remain focused as we discuss and deliberate on the crucial role of healthy living as a first step towards lowering the cost of ensuring a healthy community."
Bisso emphasized the importance of prevention and early diagnosis and the crucial need for a comprehensive health care system that focuses not only on cure but also on prevention, health promotion and rehabilitation.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE
Prof Francis Omaswa, a former director general of Health Services and the conference's chairman, said given the rapid change of knowledge and advances in the medical field, there is need for health practitioners to periodically meet and reflect on progress towards their communities' health development.
"It is important for us to take off time to share the latest developments in the medical world with specific reference to our own health care challenges," said Omaswa.
The importance of a legal framework is also necessary for the achievement of universal health coverage.
Prof James Tumwine, the co-chair of the conference, noted: "We know that the ministry of Health leadership is working tirelessly to come up with a policy and legislative framework for achieving universal health coverage so that no Ugandan will be denied quality health service just because they cannot afford it."
Tumwine added that it is essential to work with communities to sustainably mobilize resources for this purpose.