One cannot assume that Uganda’s entire tuberculosis (TB) budget provision per capita wholesomely and directly reaches TB patients who most need it. In Uganda, for example, funding for the National TB Programme is intended to cover costs for policy making, advocacy, communication, production of technical guidelines, production of operational guidelines, procurement of drugs and supplies, distribution of drugs and supplies, and more.
Financial management for health care in many sub-Saharan African countries, such as in Uganda, is often baffling, indeed. With significant proportions of budgeted funds allocated to cover administration costs and lesser proportions allocated to procure medical human resources, materials and drugs.
In Uganda, for example, medical staff are reported used to doing their work, including handling infectious patients, without wearing the necessary protective gear. They have gotten used to the risky practice, because it is often the case that the necessary protective gear is not procured, because it was likely considered priority to cover other non-medical staff related administrative costs – such as a powerful car for the administrator.
Health care medical professionals in sub-Saharan Africa, as is the case in Uganda, are often underpaid and overworked. The swift explanation given for this maladministration often revolves around explanations that insinuate the view of “that is all the funds provided could afford”; that is to say, a few numbers of medical personnel handling huge amounts of work.
One of Uganda’s famous doctors, Dr. Lukwiya, for example, is believed to have forgotten to wear his goggles because he was groggy after having been woken out of bed and presumably after having worked for long hours prior. Without his goggles he likely came into contact with a nurse who had contracted Ebola, likely because the nurse had not worn the proper protective gear.
By that simple mistake, a momentary lapse, likely because of fatigue, Dr. Lukwiya contracted Ebola and he died from it. Perhaps, if there had been more medical personnel working with Dr. Lukwiya and as qualified as he was, then he would not have been put in the position that caused him to have a momentary lapse that cost him his life.
By Norah Owaraga, CPAR Uganda Managing Director, Cultural Anthropologist researching Tuberculosis in Uganda.