Lord Dolar Popat a Ugandan-Asian in London has donated $100,000 to Busolwe Hospital (where he was born) and Tororo Hospital (he grew up in Tororo) as his personal contribution to boosting the rural health situation.
Expressing his concern for the pain and suffering of the local people in the area of his birth (Busolwe in the new Butaleja district) and childhood (Tororo), Lord Popat highlighted the hardship poor Ugandans have in paying their own health care costs against an underfunded public health budget.
Lord Popat (his title coming from his position as a House of Lords Peer in the UK Parliament) made the remarks at the Uganda-UK Healthcare Summit at the British Medical Association House in London .
“People in Uganda are suffering, people are in pain. I would like to make a $100,000 contribution to the hospital I was born and the area I grew up,” Lord Popat announced in his keynote address.
Lord Popat revealed living in Uganda till aged 17 years, when he emigrated to Britain in 1971 from the Asian expulsion by Idi Amin.
Inspite the abrupt and shocking manner the Popat family left Uganda-with him in arriving in Britain with only £10 in his pocket-Lord Popat has retained an affection for the country of his birth. He currently serves as the UK’s Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda.
In his new homeland, Lord Popat grew up to thrive as a self employed businessman becoming a self made multi-millionaire and one of the richest British Asians today.
His recent ministerial appointment made him the first Ugandan Asian to become a Minister in the British Parliament.
The self-made multi-millionaire said “Uganda’s loss was Britain’s gain,” in reference to his family being forced to emigrate to Britain.
Uganda’s High Commissioner (pictures below) to the United Kingdom Joyce Kikafunda (and a qualified nutritionist-she has a Phd in Food and Nutrition Sciences and a degree in Agricultural Sciences) noted the negative effect poor nutrition (both among the poor and rich) is having on the rising disease burden (new diseases that are overtaking traditional ones) among Ugandans.
“The health situation in Uganda- like all other low income countries- is faced with a heavy disease burden due to poverty. Under nutrition is also paying a big part on the disease burden as there is a direct link between what one eats and their health,” she revealed.
She listed the non-communicable diseases as cancer, diabetes, coronary heart diseases, hypertension and which are diet related.
She noted a 49% rise in blood pressure in adults, 22% rise in raised cholesterol, 7% rise in overweight in adolescents and 5% rise in obesity in adults among Ugandans versus a 30% rise in anaemia in pregnant women, 20% rise in anaemia among non-pregnant women and 50% rise in anaemia in children below 5 years.
In what she referred to as the double burden of malnutrition, she said wealthy Ugandans are suffering diet related illnesses on one hand while the poor are also suffering diet related diseases that are linked to nutrient deficiency.
“Anaemia is now among the leading contributors of mortality in women in Uganda. Anaemia affects 30% of pregnant women, 20% non pregnant women and 50% of children below 5 years. It is now among the leading contributors of mortality in Uganda,” she revealed.
“The linkages between agriculture, nutrition and health are weak. Personnel from the agriculture sector are working alone busy producing food, without consulting nutritionists. On the other hand, personnel from the health sector are busy treating diseases with no link to nutritionists. Nutrition is a critical link to good health,” she explained.
The summit was the first UK organised event focusing on Uganda’s health care and which brought together Uganda’s Ministry of Health officials, Ugandan health professionals (to include medical doctors, nurses, midwives), Ugandan-UK based health care workers and British medical doctors and other healthcare professionals and British stakeholders with healthcare investment interests in Uganda.
The well attended event was organised by two Ugandan-UK based registered mental health nurses-Mariam Aligawesa (left-in picture below) and Moses Mulimira (right-in picture below)-under the Uganda Diaspora Health Foundation that they co-founded. Through the Uganda Diaspora Health Foundation links exchanges have been established with Butabika Hospital in Uganda with Mulimira and Aligawesa among the Ugandan-UK diaspora that have returned home to share their experience with their colleagues back home as well as learn from them. Butabika hospital mental health professionals have also come to the UK for further training under the exchange programme that has been created through the foundation.
Delegates were updated about Uganda’s health situation to include budget constrains, the rising disease burden (notably from new diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension (and medically categorised as non-communicable diseases), medical equipment constraints in Uganda’s hospitals and the self funding public health model in which Ugandans are forced to pay for healthcare because of a very small government funded healthcare package.
Several health professionals from Uganda attended as key note speakers and appraised the audience on the health situation in Uganda.