A total of 41 specialised doctors trained abroad by government to champion the opening of a specialised medical services in Uganda are still waiting after the initiative reportedly failed to kick off due to funding constraints.
Daily Monitor understands that State House funded the training of the surgeons with each spending at least Shs91.1m on studies, accommodation and subsistence allowance for a one-year stay in India and Canada.
Dr Gideon Rukundo Rugari, the head of the minor access surgeries (MAS) at Mulago hospital, who coordinated the project, told Daily Monitor yesterday that upon return, the surgeons have remained redundant.
"We want these doctors to come to Mulago to practice what they were taught during the fellowship. The specialised skills are being wasted up country. We want to come together because if you are building an army, you have to keep them together for discipline, cohesion and protocol," Dr Rugari said.
He said the facility, supposed to be accommodated at the New Mulago section to serve as a centre of excellence in the Great Lakes region, needs at least Shs91.8b to be established, including the procurement of equipment, training and running hospitality services.
The surgeons, selected from hospitals across the country, were trained in specialised procedures targeting 14 areas.
These include neuro surgery, GI surgery/oncology, liver transplant; urology/renal transplant, vascular surgery, spine surgery, nephorology, reconstructive surgery and kidney transplant.
Others are breast and endocrinology surgery, interventional radiology, implabtology surgery, in-vitro fertilisation (fertilisation of mature eggs by sperm in a laboratory before being put back in the uterus) and arthroscopic surgery.
"These surgeons need to practice because one needs a minimum of 100 successful procedures to become a specialist. I know some of them who are ready to go out of the country but we always convince them to wait hoping that funds would be made available to put up the facility," Dr Rugari said.
"There is fear of decay of skills hence it is expensive to send them abroad again for training. We had planned that our Indian trainers would come to Uganda and guide us in the initial stages of the product. We need government support," he added.
The doctors have been redeployed to various health facilities since their return at the end of 2018.
Dr Rugari accused the Ministry of Health of ignoring a presidential directive to fund the establishment of the facility.
However, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the ministry's senior spokesperson, demanded proof of the directive from the doctors.
"Without seeing that directive, I may not have enough to say but I know we have been sponsoring doctors for specialised training abroad,"Mr Ainebyoona said.
He promised to furnish this newspaper with information concerning the specialised medical services project.
Cost of treatment abroad
Many Ugandans, whose medical condition cannot be handled within the country, are given referrals to specialists abroad, especially in India, South Africa, United States, United Kingdom, Turkey and neighbouring Kenya. Most of the complicated medical conditions cost not less than $5,000 (about Shs18m).
DOCTOR AREA OF SPECIALITY
Gideon Rukundo Rugari GI Surgery/Oncology
Jane Racheal Ayikoru GI Surgery/Oncology
Vivian Akello GI Surgery/Oncology
Gideon Kwikiriza Kurigamba GI Surgery/Oncology
Michael Okello Liver Transplant
Saul Kagwa Liver Transplant
William Ocen Liver Transplant
Jimmy Odaga Renal Transplant
Ian Asiimwe Shane Renal Transplant
Robert Masereka Renal Transplant
Joseph Okello Odoi Vascular Surgery
Rodney Mugarura Spine Surgery
Raymond Malinga Spine Surgery
Naomi Amuron Spine Surgery
Michael Blessing Taremwa Neurovascular Surgery
Rita Nassanga Interventional Radiology
Emmanuel Elobu GI Surgery/Oncology
Vianney Kweyamba Liver Transplant
Olivia Kituuka Liver Transplant
Louis Asiimwe Liver Transplant
Nick Okwi Renal Transplant
Victor Nassaka Renal Transplant
Joseph Ogavu Gyagenda Nephrology
Esther Nakandha Magumba Nephrology
Aggrey Lubikire Critical and Intensive care
Emily Kakande Minor Access