Mixed up health priorities and investigation!

Posted on June 5, 2011


authored by Ddembe on 2. May 2007 at 09:37


Daily Monitor yesterday learnt that within minutes of Mayombo’s death that calls for a full investigation into the actual cause of death are already being made.
The calls for investigation came against the backdrop of rumours that he died of poisoning. Reliable security sources that had been monitoring Mayombo’s situation since Thursday told Daily Monitor that “there were strong leads to suggest foul play.”
“Nsibambi promises funds to cancer Institute
Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi has directed Dr Erem, a consultant at the Uganda Cancer Institute to draw up a budget and see how best the government could fund the institute.
“An excellent case has been made about Mulago hospital and I have no hesitation to ask Dr Erem to indicate his requirements to the ministry of Health ,” Prof Nsibambi said during a funeral service for Oyam South MP Okullo Epak at All Saints Cathedral in Kampala yesterday. “We shall see what can be done,” he added.
Members of Parliament while eulogising Epak on Monday said the Cancer Institute needed to be upgraded to save lives of the many Ugandans suffering from the disease.
They said the government should remit some of the taxes from tobacco industries to the institute to improve on the services there. Epak died last Wednesday after a three-year battle against lung cancer.
Speaker after speaker in their eulogies yesterday blamed the government for under funding and understaffing the institute.
Bishop Zac Niringiye said leaders should share what they have with the poor.
Epak will be buried at his home in Loro today. “
Here we go again -the blame game continues!
Everytime a high profile Ugandan dies calls ranging from blaming the doctors to self serving calls by members of parliament and cabinet for government funded care for themselves abroad start again!
How broad should the investigation into health and health care in Uganda be? Should it be limited to the team that failed to save the life of a man who did not deserve to die despite having a condition with a mortality rate well exceeding 50 percent in the best centres? Or should it be extended to the whole health department as well as the political responsibility!
Ugandan doctors will continue to desert a health system that does not put its money where its mouth is! The system instead of blaming the individual needs to have a closer look at itself. Most of all the politicians need to examine their culpability in this state of affairs!
A hospital is more than having doctors! Doctors have got to be facilitated in order to practice their skills to maximum effect -and here I am not referring to remuneration!!! A hospital without doctors is also useless! Well trained nursing and support staff are required to run a world class hospital all of which cost money!
Our members of parliament prefer not to be treated in local hospitals! Good money is paid out for them to be flown out for routine checks and treatment that could be offered locally if the local facilities were supported with the same money that is paid to other countries and foreign insurance and evacuation services!
Our ministers and most high ranking army officers are catered for in exclusive contracts to foreign hospitals in foreign countries! Meantime our local facilities are left to rot! Gone are the days when people flocked from neighbouring countries for treatment and second opinions in Uganda!
Our topmost politicians are the leaders in this flight to foreign lands for treatment led by the President himself! Not to mention the scandalous misuse of public resources like the use of the presidential jet to fly the “first” daughter to Germany for a normal delivery! At least this time the mission was to save a life!
These high profile deaths serve to highlight the high price we pay and will continue to pay for neglecting our health system! let all those concerned pay attention to the things that matter -the creation of exclusive contracts for a few VIP’s will not protect them! The support of the whole healthcare and medical training system is the only thing that will protect them!
At a time when Ugandans are still recovering from the high figures attributed to some individuals who rorted the Global fund, this should serve to focus our anger and direct it squarely at those responsible! If this was China, the bullets of those implicated in the scandal would have their names imprinted on them -and the death of Mayombo would have been the last nail in their coffins!!
The reality is that even with the best care in the world, the deck would have been stacked against Mayombo if he did indeed have fulminant pancreatitis which is notorius for a high mortality rate! He however should have been able to receive the best care locally without resort to flying around in critical condition!
As someone whose close relative has had to resort to the same remedy of flying out in critical condition (and survived because of this where he would have certainly died if he had stayed), I would suggest that the healthcare system needs to be investigated with attention to where the responsibility lies -in the high places! And may I suggest that all priviledges to public officials that include flying out of the country at public expense be scrapped! That is the only thing that will motivate politicians to place emphasis where it is due!
A few years ago, former Prime Lee Kuan Yew wife who was travelling with him in the UK on a private visit had a small stroke. She needed a CT scan of her brain which is a standard of care in countries with the resources! The Newspapers in the UK went into a frenzy for a foreign dignitary having been allowed to “jump the queue” for a CT scan! You see the overburdened UK NHS has a queue for standard therapy that Mr Lew could have got for his wife in his own country within an hour!!
Mr Lew made arrangements for a private jet to fly his wife back home to Singapore to be managed by doctors in a hospital he built and a health system he built! A system that works very well and can compete with that of his grudging hosts in the UK!
Now that is what I call independence! Our politicians who love to use Singapore as an example to emulate need to know what is worthy of emulating! Every person in Singapore has access to good quality healthcare! And local dignitaries are not afraid of receiving care in their local facilities for they have built them and supported them to achieve the high standards that are as good as anywhere else their money can take them!

Posted in: Health, Uganda