Aga Khan to build university hospital in Kampala, Uganda

Friday April 28 2023
Agha Khan University Hospital Vice Chancellor Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin

Aga Khan University Hospital Vice Chancellor, Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, on April 27, 2023 showing the construction site of the medical group's newly launched teaching hospital at Nakawa, Kampala in Uganda. PHOTO | COURTESY


Uganda’s healthcare system is poised to receive a major boost for emergency and chronic illnesses that could reduce medical tourism and the draining of resources associated with it after the launch of the Aga Khan teaching hospital in the capital.

A report by Uganda’s Auditor-General a few years ago indicated that the government had spent about Ush10.08 billion ($2.9m) on the treatment of about 140 senior government officials abroad, most of them receiving treatment for heart and kidney conditions, cancer and diabetes in hospitals located in Kenya, South Africa, India and China, while in many instances, Ugandans have been fundraising for treatment of their relatives and friends abroad, bringing the total health bill abroad for both public and private individuals to Ush25 billion ($6.7m). 

Largest single capital investment

The of launch the hospital, which was presided over by Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni and Princess Zahra Aga Khan, took place in Nakawa, Kampala on Thursday morning.

According to the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery Academic Coordinator in Kampala Caroline Namukwaya, the premises launched will include a training hospital, teaching spaces and students’ residences.

An artistic impression

An artistic impression of the Aga Khan University Hospital to be constructed at Nakawa, Kampala. PHOTO | COURTESY


The Agha Khan University Hospital Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, says the first phase of the construction, which will cost $100m (Ushs373 billion), will be completed in 2026 with a 150-bed wing, although the plan is to have a 600-bed capacity. The facility will be open to students in 2025, and patients will be admitted shortly after that.

“Through this facility, a new group of exceptionally skilled and equipped nurses and midwives will be available to support the health sector all over Uganda in years to come. We honour the services of those who are already saving lives and keeping our people healthy,” Mrs Museveni said.

“This project is currently the largest single capital investment project of the Aga Khan Development Network that has been made in East Africa in this field. This university will also provide access to modern healthcare by the underprivileged as it also makes ground-breaking research on issues that affect millions of our people,” Mrs Museveni said.

The hospital will be part of an integrated healthcare system in the region and will work with the other two Aga Khan hospitals in Nairobi, Kenya and Karachi in Pakistan, both of which are certified and accredited by the US Joint Commission International as first-class hospitals.

Best medical treatment

The hospital will cover health as well as education, training and research to be able to offer the best medical treatment, especially for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, mental and neurological illness as well as cancer. About 1.1 million new cancer cases occur each year in Africa, with about 700,000 deaths and about one million deaths per year will be due to cancer by 2030.

Records from Uganda’s Health Ministry indicate that non-communicable diseases such as cancer are killing more people in the country.

The Uganda Cancer Institute 2022 data shows that 33,000 Ugandans are diagnosed with cancer every year, while only 7,400 patients access cancer treatment from health facilities in the country and with over 80 per cent of the patients seeking treatment when the cancer is in advanced stages. 

Therefore, health experts expect the hospital to supplement the efforts of the Uganda cancer Institute in offering specialised treatment to patients and reducing deaths.

The hospital complex will sit on 60 acres of land in the city suburb of Nakawa.