After years of campaigning for increased funding the Mulago Hospital heart and cancer institutes may finally have their prayers answered.
James Kubeketerya, chairperson of the parliamentary social services committee, says the institutes are to receive a total of eight billion shillings to fund their activities in the coming financial year. He says that according to the Midterm Budget Framework Paper, the Heart Institute will get 4.8 billion shillings and the Cancer Institute will receive just over three billion shillings.
Both the heart and cancer institutes have been lobbying for several years for an increase in their budgetary allocations, complaining that the funding from the central government isn't sufficient for treatment demands as well as research and expansion. The 40-year-old Cancer Institute has only two wards with 30 beds in each despite the overwhelming demand for services there. Many patients are forced to sleep on the floor in the wards.
Government funding to Mulago Hospital is around five billion shillings, but the Cancer Institute says it needs six billion shillings to operate effectively.
The situation is no different at the Heart Institute which is beleaguered with staff shortages and lacks the specialized equipment to conduct regular heart operations. Most of the equipment in the Heart Institute has been donated by various funding bodies and philanthropists and heart patients in the country have to raise millions of shillings to seek treatment outside the country because of the limited capacity of the institute.
Kubeketerya says stakeholders in the medical field put up a strong argument for the increased funding of the heart and cancer institute and is positive the money will be delivered to make a real impact on patients across the country.
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The news of the funding comes amidst questions about the whereabouts of one billion shillings that was budgeted for the Cancer Institute this financial year.
Dr. Isaac Ezati, Deputy Director of Mulago Hospital, refused to comment on claims that the money was diverted by the hospital authorities to other departments within the country's national referral hospital. Dr Jackson Orem, the head of the Cancer Institute, said a stakeholders' meeting to get to the bottom of the funding is slated for next week.