14 June 2019

Uganda: Mityana Hospital Doctor On the Run After Patient's Death

Mityana — A medic at Mityana General Hospital has gone into hiding after neglecting a patient which consequently led to her death.

Police have identified the deceased as Sylvia Nantongo, a 19-year-old resident of Mutetema Village, Kalangaalo Sub County in Mityana District.

Nantongo who delivered a baby six months ago had been rushed to the public facility after developing intestinal obstruction on Tuesday afternoon.

The suspect reportedly demanded Shs 350,000 from Nantongo's family in order to operate her.

"We tried to look for the money he [doctor] had demanded and managed to get only Shs200, 000. We pleaded with him to work on the patient as we look for the balance and he told us to negotiate with nurses on duty," Nantongo's mother, Ms Joyce Nantale said.

Ms Nantale said although her daughter was taken to the theatre, she was abandoned at the entrance and by the time they paid all the money, she had died.

Ms Ismail Byekwaso who took the money to the hospital, said the suspect ordered Nantongo's relatives to either pay the money or leave the facility with their patient. The deceased was buried at her ancestral home at Mutetema Village on Wednesday.

After learning about the incident, district leaders rushed to the hospital on Wednesday to establish what had happened.

Mr James Nkaata, the Chief Administrative Officer said the accused doctor was not responsible for Nantongo's death but some junior staff who reportedly delayed to take her to the theatre.

"We have established that the doctor was waiting for the patient at the theatre but one of the junior staff delayed the process as they negotiated a bribe with the deceased's family. We strongly condemn such acts and the management of the hospital has promised to put in place tough measures to address such issues, including illegal charging and other unethical behaviors," he said.

Patients who seek treatment at Mityana Hospital have always complained about some staff asking them for money before they get the services.

Ms Samuel Kayemba, a resident of Mityana Town whose wife had also just delivered a baby girl at the facility said it is a common practice to pay a fee before they get attention from the health workers.

"Asking for money from patients at Mityana Hospital is a habit and we have lived with it for long," he said.

Mr Joseph Luzige, the Mityana District chairperson cautioned health workers at the facility against such acts, saying it's not only the highest form of unprofessionalism but also illegal.

He said as a district, they have tried to crack down on such wrong elements in health units but the vice is still rampant.

"This should serve as a warning to the rest of hospital staff who negotiate bribes with patients. Services here are free of charge and whoever will be caught charging money will be arrested and prosecuted," he said.

Mr Norbert Ochom, the Wamala regional police spokesperson said they have summoned five hospital staff to record statements.

"We summoned the nurse who was on duty that day and four other hospital staff," he said.

By 11am on Thursday, the hospital staff had not reported to Mityana Central Police Station.

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