OPINION: Dead On Arrival; This Dire Billboard Doesn’t Belong at the Mulago Gate

The gigantic billboard at the Mulago hospital gate, that advertises a private health facility in Nairobi.

By Kungu Al-mahadi Adam

Self denial is an act of letting go of the self as with altruistic abstinence – the willingness to forego personal pleasures or undergo personal trials in the pursuit of the increased good of another.

In fact, in many cases, it results into own destruction if not tamed.

This is the the state, Uganda’s National referral hospital, Mulago could be in.

Just at the entrance of the hospital towards Kamwokya, there stands a number of sign posts and a large billboard which advertises a Kenyan private hospital and tells how it is the only facility in the region with best healthcare services.

“You do not have to leave East Africa you receive the World Class Healthcare. Now Available – PET CT and Cyclotron,” reads the billboard standing tall at one of the hospital’s entrances.

“The most advanced cancer diagnostic services – The Agha Khan University Hospital in Nairobi,” further reads the message on the billboard.

For starters, the location of this billboard is not appropriate. Why would any authority allow an advertisement of another foreign facility on its entry moreover with words which not only threaten the hopes of patients for good service but also, signify an impaired government facility?

Government has always said that it aspires to invest in the capacity at the Cancer Institute to ensure that Uganda cuts the upward trend of medical tourism and indeed efforts to the effect have been witnessed, but how do you build hope yet you outrightly undermine your capacity?

The gates of the main referral hospital give a green light to the medical tourism which we intend to reduce, isn’t that a contradiction on our part?

Look, the rehabilitation of Mulago hospital has been ongoing to make it a super specialised Hospital, erecting such a billboard, only communicates to giving up on the process before even take off.

The line “the most advanced Cancer diagnostic services” does not only violate the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act which bars comparative medical advertisement, but also tells the entire world about the crippling state of our main hospital.

How can health authorities including leaders of Mulago Hospital, Ministry of Health and government allow such a ‘disaster’ to exist?

Yes, we know that a number foreign countries including Kenya, have better health services than us, but then why tell an arriving patient that there is no hope for you where you are going, because “the most advanced” services – which by the way a larger section of the population can’t afford, are in Kenya.

Is it by design due to the East African Community? If yes, why position it specifically at the entrance of Mulago?

Could it be a deliberate attempt to render our people hopeless and keep crying of how he/she wishes could afford the Nairobi medical fees, or may be, someone influential in the hospital is striking a deal with Agha Khan University hospital to market them before the ailing patients in Mulago.

Until the authorities come out to turn down this misleading and torpedo sign post or transfer it to another location, many questions shall continue popping up on whether someone bathers to mind even what is regarded as let important.

The writer is a Ugandan journalist with passion for current African political affairs.


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