Ministry of health moves to boost paediatric surgery under new strategic plan

Kampala – The Ministry of Health has launched a Paediatric Surgery program to boost Surgery for babies and children across the country.

The Uganda Paediatrics Surgery Plan 2023- 2027 was launched by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health Dr. Diana Atwine during a function held at the Ministry Headquarters in Kampala on Thursday morning.

The plan is supported and funded by the Kids Operating Room, a nonprofit UK based organization. The ministry says this plan is aligned to the overall goal of ensuring: Access to timely, safe and affordable surgical care for children as a key component of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

According to World Health Organisation, five billion people globally lack access to surgical care and of these 1.75 billion are children especially in low and middle income countries who face a disproportionately high risk of surgical conditions.

Dr. Atwiine says although Uganda has made significant progress in many areas towards attainment of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by delivering an essential healthcare package, delivery of comprehensive surgical services still remains limited (Uganda’s annual surgical volume is about 150 cases per 100,000 population).

She notes that of this burden, a significant percentage of cases are Pediatric Surgical conditions, majorly congenital abnormalities and acquired surgical conditions including trauma, hernias and cancer among others.

“A child in Uganda has an 85% risk of requiring surgical care by age 15, 1/3 of the patients in our surgery wards are children and an estimated 1 Million children have an unmet surgical need,” said Dr. Atwiine

She added, “This unmet need for Pediatric Surgery is due to shortages in human resources for health, inadequate surgical equipment and infrastructure, poor health seeking behaviour for surgical conditions by the population among others.”

Against this background, the Ministry of Health says they have put significant focus on expanding access to services for Paediatric surgery and developing tertiary units to manage complicated cases.

Among these initiatives include; the Entebbe Children’s Surgical Hospital run as a consortium with the emergency, renovation and equipping of operating theatres across Regional Referral Hospitals (RRHs) and General Hospitals(GHs), establishment of Intensive Care Units across RRHs and training of more general surgeons and support staff.

About the new plan

Dr. Atwiine says the Uganda Paediatrics Surgery Plan 2023- 2027 will include;

Development of a children’s surgical care system with 12 Regional Centers of Excellence and a Super Specialist Centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital.

Development of a critical mass of Human Resources for Health including Pediatric Surgeons, Anesthesiologists, Paediatric Nurses and Critical Care Nurses, that with improvement of Paediatric Surgical Services in the Country.

Infrastructure development and equipping of theatres for the selected 12 Centers of Excellence and the Super Specialist Unit at Mulago NRH for Paediatric friendly surgical services.

On their part, the Kids OR team represented by the Team Chairman, Careth Wood and the CEO Dr. David Cunningham (PhD) expressed commitment to supporting this plan.

“If this is successful and I believe it will, 5 years from now, there will be an incredible solid foundation for children surgery upon which future growth can be achieved,” said David Cunningham.

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