Heart institute fails to carry out Sh 2 billion surgery campaign over equipment, staff

Uganda Heart Institute

The Uganda Heart Institute could not carry out 100 surgeries under a Rotary District 9213 campaign due to the lack of human resources and hospital equipment Uganda Radio Network has learned.

This comes following a medical camp being organised by the Rotary club.

As part of the campaign, 100 children aged 0-14 years of age are going to be taken to India to receive free heart surgeries.

The entire campaign is projected to cost at least Sh2.4 billion to cater for the surgeries of the children, accommodation, and airfare.

With several funding gaps, the money that will be spent in India could have helped the institute a long way.

However, due to lack of enough ICU beds, human resource staff UHI could not carry out these surgeries.

Dr. Micheal Oketcho, the head of Pediatric Surgery at UHI says Rotary taking the children to India is good because there is no way they would have been able to carry out the surgeries.

According to Dr. Oketcho, with only two ICU beds, the specialised health facility can only carry out two surgeries a week.

With such glaring gaps, he says the money that is going to be spent in India would help the institute treat more children.

“Annually around 300 to 400 children in need of surgical interventions to different heart diseases make it to UHI. But we only handle 160 cases a year however we only have two ICU beds.

At the moment these beds are occupied by three children whose surgeries were carried out last week. Now we cannot operate on any other cases,” he explained.

In addition to not having enough hospital beds, Dr. Oketcho says they also do not have critical care staff. He says they have less than half of the required staff.

According to the Ministry of Health, around 7,000 children need surgeries to correct different heart diseases.

Some of the most common heart complications that children suffer from are; Ventricular Septal Defects( like holes), Patent Ductus Arteriosus, Tetralogy of the Fallot and Atrial Septal Defects(hike between the two chambers of the heart).

Dr. Oketcho says for them to be able to treat at least 300 cases, the institute needs to have a fully operational Pediatric Unit with at least ten ICU beds.

Annually, the institute is allocated 4 billion shillings for its budget. The executive director of the institute, Dr. John Omagino says this money is less than what they need to be able to provide care to the population in need.

” We need around 19 billion shillings to be able to buy equipment like ICU beds to be able to treat more people. We have world-recognised doctors who can handle more than 80 percent of all cardiovascular diseases that might require treatment but they do not have equipment or space to carry out more surgeries. The money we get can only help around 100 patients annually,” says Dr. Omagino.

This is not the first time the executive director has hinted at funding shortfalls at the institute.

Dr. Omagino says due to such funding shortfalls, the hospital relies on well-wishers such as Rotary International and other clubs or organisations to take children abroad to receive treatment

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