The Executive Director of Mulago National Referral Hospital Dr. Byarugaba Baterana has criticised ministers and Members of Parliament for curtailing the health facility’s efforts of generating revenue. He said they continuously demand free services at their private section.
Dr. Baterana said that it was disturbing that politicians don’t want to pay for hospital services and expect peasants to pay for the same. He added that although the hospital is often blamed for not raising revenue, all efforts in this direction have been frustrated by ministers, Members of Parliament, and other political leaders.
He made the statement while appearing before Parliament’s Health Committee where he had gone to respond to the hospital’s budget allocation in the coming financial year 2022/2023 under the Budget Framework Paper. Mulago hospital has been allocated a ceiling of sh69.275 billion in the framework paper.
It’s on the basis of this ceiling that Baterana appealed to the MPs for an additional sh153.27 billion to enable the hospital to purchase specialised medicines, medical equipment, and furniture, remodel and refurbish upper Mulago, pay gratuity, build staff houses, conduct specialised medical training among others.
The Health Committee Vice Chairperson Joel Ssebikari however questioned why Mulago requests a huge budget yet it has nothing to show in revenue collections.
In response, Dr. Baterana blamed politicians for continuously demanding free services even when they require payment. He said that different politicians demand waivers and ask that their patients be released without paying.
“Actually, Mulago does not need to receive money from the government to run. Mulago needs to make money and on making money…that is why we have Private Patients Services where people come and pay money for consultation and admission. Unfortunately, I want to be on record and say that the politicians are the ones actually who are hindering that service from going,” he said.
Baterana pledged to provide evidence of the Ministers and MPs that have asked for waivers to the committee once it visits the facility. He wondered what the Committee wants him to do under the circumstances where they don’t want him to charge money and also want the facility to raise revenue to support their budget.
“I have actually been abused even in this committee….why are you charging CT Scan, Opthalmology? People want Mulago to be completely free and that is why Mulago can not make money. Unfortunately, Heart Institute is given a chance to make money and people pay but when it comes to Mulago, people want it free,” Dr. Baterana added.
Documents submitted to the committee indicate that inadequate funding is one of the major challenges the hospital faces. The others are recurrent budget cuts by the Ministry of Finance, inadequate staff, inadequate supply of medicines, congestion especially in surgical and pediatric areas, and others.