Ugandan Children between the age of zero and twelve with heart complications are to benefit from no cost treatment upon completion of the planned National Pediatric Surgical Hospital at Banga, Entebbe Municipality.
The hospital is going to be constructed by an Italian NGO Emergency founded by Dr. Gino Strada, an Italian war surgeon co-partnering with government.
President Yoweri Museveni today officiated at the ground breaking ceremony for the hospital noting that government gave 30 acres of land to the project while NGO Emergency will construct the facility at a cost of 87.4 billion Shillings (23 million Euros). Government will contribute 20 percent of the total cost.
Museveni said that the hospital, expected to be operational in two years, will purely handle specialized heart surgery for children, screening of heart diseases in children, handle referrals from the region and Africa, as well as a training centre.
He said that the experts from the Italian Emergency led by Dr. Gino Strada will be carrying out heart operations until a team of Ugandan doctors undergo super specialized training to become cardiothoracic surgeons with necessary experience.
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Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health said that the hospital will bridge the gap that has been leading to increased referrals abroad in complicated cases.
Although there is no exact data from the health ministry about the number of patients who are referred abroad for heart operations annually, Atwine says there are many referrals to India and South Africa not only in heart complications but in Kidney transplants, liver complications and others.
A report from the Uganda Heart Institute indicates that the country loses 50 billion Shillings annually on travel alone, for heart patients seeking treatment abroad.
With a fully equipped institute's cardiac catheterization unit which is a specialized medical setting in which doctors can visualize heart structures, diagnose the nature of cardiac diseases and perform minimally invasive, corrective heart procedures, the Heart Institute lacks expertise to carry out complete heart operations.
Atwine says that huge sums of money are spent on these referrals but that with the presence of the new hospital, the country will see the number of pediatric surgery referrals reduced.
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President Museveni also appealed to Ugandans to desist from encroaching on public land saying that the practice deters projects like this one. The 30 acres of land on which the hospital is going to sit was being used by the army as a farm.