While the state of Uganda’s healthcare continued to deteriorate and poor citizens succumb to treatable diseases, poor tax payers paid a whooping Shs 10bn ($2.8m) to treat just 140 government officials.
According to the 2015-16 auditor general’s report, Shs 10bn was spent in just one year (2016) – the same year a cancer radiation machine broke down – putting the lives of over 44,000 cancer patients registered at The Cancer Institute of Mulago National Referral Hospital on the line.
While these impoverished patients’ lives hung on the thread between life and death, the money they pay in taxes was being spent to offer privileged government officials first-class medical attention in India, South Africa, Turkey, Kenya, UK and the United States.
With only 50 per cent of the money spent on government officials’ treatment, Uganda would have replaced the obsolete machine donated in 1995. The health ministry told the auditor general that the reason for referrals abroad was lack of facilities to treat 46 neurologic cases, 30 kidney failures, 22 different types of cancer and 13 different heart conditions.
The expenditure on the 140 patients is higher than recorded in the report for it does not include flight, upkeep and attendants’ costs.
“Since the analysis was limited to patients approved by the medical board, many other individuals could be incurring much higher expenditure resulting into foreign exchange authorised on treatment abroad and the demise of patients who are unable to afford the high costs,” reads the report in part.