Dr. Epodoi

Legislators have called for the expeditious reconstruction of Soroti Regional Referral Hospital following the successful surgery to separate conjoined twins that was carried out by a team of doctors there.

The surgeons were led by Dr. Joseph Epodoi, a senior surgeon and urologist in Soroti Regional Hospital separated the twins on 26 March 2021.

The twins were delivered on 21 March in Amuria district and one of them was dead. They were referred to Soroti but after assessment, they were referred to Mulago. After two days, the infants were returned to Soroti with one of the dead twins decomposing.

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While paying tribute to Dr. Epodoi and his team during a plenary sitting on 7 April 2021, the lawmakers decried the state of the hospital, despite the remarkable surgeries that have been carried out in the facility.

The MPs also called for the investigation of Mulago Hospital, over the alleged abandonment of the conjoined twins.

Hon. Elijah Okupa (FDC. Kasilo County) who moved the motion said that the ability to separate the conjoined twins in a dilapidated facility is proof that Soroti Hospital has the capacity to handle several specialized surgeries.

“This team has made the country proud and it is my prayer that government establishes super specialized services in regional referral hospitals country wide,” said Okupa.

He added that Dr. Epodoi and his team deserve to be decorated with medals for undertaking a task which should have been done at Mulago National Referral Hospital.

“It is important to motivate doctors. Dr. Epodoi could have opted to work elsewhere but he chose to stay in his country. These are the heroes of the country,” he said.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said she would present the names of the team to the medals committee for recognition.

“We should also demand that government acquires a loan to revamp all regional referral hospitals so that patients do not have to travel from upcountry to Kampala for healthcare services,” Kadaga added.

Hon. Richard Oseku (NRM, Kibale County) said that for such surgeries to continue in Soroti, government needs to urgently improve the hospital’s infrastructure with well trained personnel.

“I have been to Soroti Hospital but the state of the hospital is not good. The theatre has only two beds and the doctors were struggling to carry out the surgery in a very small space. The budget process is ongoing and the health and budget committees should ensure that funds are appropriated to rehabilitate Soroti Hospital,” he said.

The Chairperson of the Health Committee, Hon Michael Bukenya said that there is no structure in Soroti Hospital that is up to standard, saying that all of them should be condemned.

“The Minister of Finance should bring a loan request and we approve it to reconstruct Soroti Hospital in remembrance of the heroic work done by Dr. Epodoi. He is paid slightly above US$1,000 a month, if he had carried out that operation in Nakasero hospital, he would have earned more than his salary; that is why he deserves a heroic recognition,” he said.

State Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Hon Musa Ecweru who condemned the actions of the doctors in Mulago hospital, urged government to utilize the 19 acres of land secured by the Soroti Local Government and fast track the construction of a state of the art hospital in the district.

“Thanking the team for that successful surgery in a wretched hospital alone is not enough. We need a hospital and a blood bank in Soroti. We should also support the proposal by the president to enhance salaries of scientists,” Ecweru said.

Dokolo District Woman MP, Hon. Cecilia Ogwal called for oversight visits to all regional referral hospitals to ascertain gaps which should be tackled urgently.

“We are denying our doctors the opportunity to carry out their work by not equipping the hospitals,” said Ogwal.

The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon Betty Aol Ocan said the incident should be viewed as an opportunity to highlight and tackle problems in all regional referral hospitals.

“In Gulu hospital, consultants run away; A medical worker is given lunch allowance of shs60,000 for a month. These people are working in terrible conditions. We should meet the target of appropriating 15 per cent of the national budget to healthcare,” said Aol Ocan.

The Minister of State for Public Service, Hon David Karubanga assured the lawmakers that government is implementing a salary enhancement policy for all government workers with priority given to scientists.

“By the end of the implementation period, salaries of government employees will be favourable,” he said.