The Ministry of Health has in collaboration with the Kids Operating Room, a global health charity launched the first-ever Children Surgery National Plan that aims at scaling up pediatric surgical services to regional referral and national hospitals in the country.
The five-year plan will see an improvement in the pediatric surgical care system in the regional referral and national hospitals across the country in a bid to develop a critical mass of highly skilled human resources for health, including pediatric surgeons as well as improve the infrastructure and equipment of theatres.
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Speaking during the launch at the Ministry of Health in Kampala on Thursday, the ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr.Diana Atwine acknowledged the shortage of both human resource and equipment.
“We have now put significant focus on expanding access to services for paediatric surgery and developing tertiary units to manage complicated cases. This includes the establishment of Entebbe children’s hospital, renovation and equipment of operating theatres across referral and district hospitals, the establishment of the ICUs across all regional referral hospitals, training more general surgeons and support staff among other initiatives,” Dr.Atwine said.
She noted that the plan will start with national hospitals and regional referral hospitals before being expanded.
The director of clinical services in the Ministry of Health, Dr.Charles Olaro said that it is possible for the country to build comprehensive surgical services for children in the country.
“The plan is to have a well established network of hospitals across the country as well as adequate local expertise. From the taskforce convened recommendation is to develop a super hub where at least 21 pediatric surgeons will be trained and employed by the end of 2027,” Dr.Olaro noted.
The super hub-hubs spoke model will see sharing of resources ,continuous mentorship and better communication through referral networks with lower healthcare level facilities.
In this model, a super hub will be equipped with better resources to provide specialists and superspecialists care.
A hub will have all the required resources to provide pediatric surgery while receiving support from the super hub with the option to refer patients needing more advanced to the super hub hospital.
Speaking at the function, Garreth Wood, the chairperson and co-founder of the Kids Operating Room said the plan will have a great impact on the healthcare system of the country.
“This will help more children get the right care , at the right time and in the right place, something we should all be extremely proud of. If fully implemented, it will save thousands of lives in years to come,” Wood said.
He noted that the plan will cost shs21 billion to deliver.
“What is key is that it is locally owned, delivered and will see not just new infrastructure but also training of Ugandan doctors, surgeons and nurses.”
Uganda currently has only eight pediatric surgeons who work at Mulago National Hospital, and Mbarara referral hospital.