Country Listing

Uganda Table of Contents


Health Care

Uganda had a total of seventy-nine hospitals in 1989, providing approximately 20,000 hospital beds. The government operated forty-six of these institutions, while thirty-three were staffed and equipped by religious and other private organizations. In addition, more than 600 smaller health facilities, including community health centers, maternity clinics, dispensaries, subdispensaries, leprosy centers, and aid posts, operated nationwide. At least one hospital was located in each district except the southern district of Rakai; the bestserved districts were Mukono and Mpigi, each with five hospitals, and Kampala with seven. In the more sparsely populated northern districts, however, people sometimes traveled long distances to receive medical care, and facilities were generally inferior to those in the south. In 1990 Uganda's entire health care system was served by about 700 doctors.

Uganda's per capita spending on health amounted to less than US$2 per year for most of the 1980s. This rate of spending increased slightly in 1989, when the government allocated US$63 million, roughly 26 percent of its development budget, for social services, and US$24 million of this amount for health services in particular. This represented an increase of 50 percent over health spending for the previous year.

The highest priority in government programs was rehabilitating existing facilities and improving supplies. In 1989 funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Development Association (IDA) was earmarked for rehabilitating nineteen of the nation's hospitals, primarily through building repairs and upgrading water and electrical systems. Primary health-care projects, including immunization programs, prescription drugs, clean water supplies, and public hygiene, also received special priority. European Development Fund (EDF) assistance was also used to construct twenty new health centers and one district health office and to train health-care practitioners.

A number of governmental and nongovernmental organizations were involved in health research in the late 1980s, much of this sponsored by the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Public Health, and Makerere University. The nation's largest health-care facility, Mulago Hospital, conducted research on local nutrition and endemic diseases, and researchers there developed child nutrition programs to be implemented through the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Save the Children Fund.

Several government ministries sponsored research and implemented community programs designed to improve health and nutrition. The Ugandan Red Cross and the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with several international agencies, opened an orthopedic workshop in Kampala for handicapped children and adults, most of whom had suffered from poliomyelitis or severe wounds in outbreaks of violence. Catholic and Protestant missions, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and OXFAM were also active in emergency relief projects involving food and nutrition. Many Ugandans criticized their own government for inadequate attention to popular health needs, but they also hoped that government efforts to eliminate violence and warfare would lay the foundation for improved health care.

Data as of December 1990