The Government of Uganda under the leadership of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has worked tirelessly and improved health services across Uganda, which has ended the seven killer diseases among Children below the age of 7 years, which was a very big challenge to the past regimes.
If I can refer to my primary science, the seven killer Diseases were Polio, Tuberculosis, Measles, Whooping cough, Tetanus, Diphtheria.
According to research carried out by Spyreports health team, during late 1990s, and early 2000 the seven killer diseases were very common in Uganda and claimed millions of babies below the age of 10 years.
Research further says the babies who survived death, developed permanent disabilities on their bodies that affected their life even up-to-date. For example, people who developed polio during that time had to drop out of school because they could not move long distances and they are now living with both disability and illiteracy, which has affected their economic growth.
The seven killer diseases persisted in Uganda due to lack of health facilities, drugs in the hospital and financial capacity to access treatment. During that time, majority of the parents had no income to access health services and their children ended dying.
Even apart from seven killer diseases, there was a problem of maternal death where young mothers would die while giving birth. If I can still remember in my village, over five women would die monthly while giving birth.
This was because they had no access to health services during pregnancy and this was because of lack of near by hospitals and financial capacity to access health services.
Pregnant mothers were carried on wooden bed commonly known as ‘Bigagala’ to the hospital to give birth because they were no ambulances at that time and by the time they reach hospital, some were dead while others could not normally give birth and end up dying.
However, the government after fighting insurgencies in early 2000, it put much emphasis on health and it ended the seven killer diseases as mentioned above. What I still recall in our village around 2005, government introduced free immunization to end the killer diseases. Still in our village, immunization would take place every Wednesday, all mothers would take their babies free immunization, and who ever would refuse take the baby, police had to arrest them.
That free immunization helped to reduce on the killer diseases as government started constructing health centers. President insisted on health issues every time he would address the Nation. Even in his last two presidential campaigns, he said he would improve on health serves band he has done it to his best and he is still doing it.
Modern hospitals have been built across the Country where people access free health services. The improved health serves has increased the life expectancy.
For example in 1961, Uganda had 27 hospitals and 1,288 staff for a population of 7 million. After independence, another 22 new rural hospitals were built throughout Uganda, bringing the total number of hospitals to 49. Today, Uganda has 156 hospitals, broken down as following; five national referral hospitals, 14 regional referral hospitals, 137 general hospitals, 226 HCIVs, 1,755 HCIIIs, 3,178 HCIIs, and 1,601 clinics. Now 86% of Ugandans live within 5km of a health facility.
Maternal mortality ratio, in 1986, was as high as 687, today it stands at 336/100,000 live births. In 1986, life expectancy was 48 years compared to 63.3 today (2020). Between 2012 and 2017, infant mortality went down from 54 per 1,000 live births to 43 per 1,000 live births.
Focus is now shifting to primary healthcare where emphasis is on immunization; screening; maintaining and improving reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health services.
Fighting corruption in the health sector like theft of drugs, deal with substance abuse and deal with non-communicable diseases, particularly diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer, which are on the rise.
The target of the NRM government is to ensure that there is a health Centre III (HCIII) with a maternity ward and a laboratory in every sub-county or town council or division in municipalities, a health Centre IV (HCIV) in a constituency with a theatre with 2 resident doctors, in addition to a maternity ward and a laboratory, a General Hospital serving a catchment population of 500,000, a regional referral hospital serving a region and national referral hospital serves the entire nation. These provide tertiary and specialized care.
Construction and equipment of Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal hospital was completed and commissioned in October 2018.
Construction of Kawempe and Kiruddu hospitals completed in 2018 and have been designated as national referral hospitals to decongest Mulago National Referral Hospital.
The rehabilitation and equipping of Lower Mulago Hospital is ongoing and the current progress of work is at 98% including additional works considered to enhance service delivery and upgrading to a super-specialised hospital.
Rehabilitation and equipping of Kawolo Hospital was completed and is due for commissioning.
Renovation and expansion of Kayunga and Yumbe general hospitals was completed. The two hospitals will be fully equipped by December 2020.
Construction of the regional hospital in Entebbe for pediatric surgery was completed and is ready for commissioning.
Works started on the renovation and expansion of Lira, Arua and Gulu regional referral hospitals.
The following new hospitals have been established by upgrading Health Centre IVs: Amuria, Kaberamaido, Koboko, Rukunyu (Kamwenge), Kasana (Luweero) and Mukono.
In partnership with international partners, the NRM government has embarked on the construction of a state-of-the-art International Specialised Hospital (ISHU) at Lubowa in Wakiso. Construction commenced on 10th June 2019 and is expected to be completed by June, 2021. ISHU is a specialised referral, tertiary treatment, research, and teaching hospital, which will provide treatment to patients who have been traveling out of the country to seek specialized care. In 2017, it was estimated that Ugandan spent an estimated US$186m on medical treatment abroad.
- Overall, 86%of the population access health care within a 5km
- Overall, 6,937health facilities are in Uganda.
- Referral Hospitals increased from 1 in 1986 to 17 in 2020. –examples are
- Mulago, Moroto, Arua, Fortportal, Gulu, Hoima, Jinja, Kabale, Lira, Masaka, Mbarara, Mubende, Kawempe, Kirudu, Naguru, Mbale.
- Specialized government hospitals including – Uganda Heart Institute, Uganda Cancer Institute, a 450 bed Specialized Women and Neonatal Hospital Mulago, – Uganda National health laboratories services, Butabika and specialized viral testing regional centre.
- 222Health Centre IVs
- 1,569Health Centre IIIs and 3,364 Health Centre IIs
- HIV prevalence rate has declined from over 15% in late 80sto less than 6% in 2018
- Government distributed 5 millionlong lasting insecticidal (LLINs) mosquito nets country wide in FY 2017/18 representing 95%
- There was increase in medical training facilities which caused an increase in staffing levels of 74%of health workers (46,829 to 63,000 in FY2017/18)
- infant mortality deaths reduced from 2% to 44.7% per 1000live births which is 2% decline (2019)
- Mosquito net coverage achieved 0ver 95%with a total distribution of 26,553,000million nets protecting 44,713,517 persons 112 districts countrywide.
- Malaria prevalence reduced from 52% in 2009 to 17 % in2018 hence reducing malaria deaths from 10,500 to 2057 in 2019.
Benefits of improved medical services
- Improved health
- Quality of life has service delivery
- Improved – life expectancy is 2for males and 8 for female, making an average of 62.5. Reduced infant mortality rate from 60.2 deaths per 1000 live births in 2007 to 35.4 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017.
- Heart surgery – Uganda Heart Institute conducted the first coronary artery bypass grafting in Uganda in 2018.
- New cancer machine commissioned at Uganda Cancer Institute to treat up to 30,000patients annually
- Immunization was widely done covering over 18 millionchildren against polio, measles and rubella.
- Due to wide coverage of health centres, distances to medical services have been shortened enabling easy access.
- Salary increased for medical personnel and other cadres increased in FY2018/19.