Uganda: Govt Should Improve Public Health System


Last week, a video recording of Mary Aliona, an asymptomatic coronavirus patient admitted to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, sparked debate on social media.

In the video, Aliona shows and tells of the dire conditions under which those admitted at the hospital in that particular centre were living. She said they were rarely visited by doctors, who only showed up to drop medicine with no prescription sheets.

The ward which housed both children and women had holes in the ceiling, no detergent to clean toilets, no running water and no provision for proper garbage disposal. In the video, Aliona also shows a tent shelter where some patients were sleeping on dry ground. It was basically a cry for help to the powers that be.

In response, the Ministry of Health dismissed the video as a gross exaggeration by the patient.

The ministry in a statement explains that the ward was only a temporary structure, but that patients would be transferred to a well-known refurbished main ward as soon as renovation works are completed.

However, shortly after Aliona's cry for help and the Ministry's response, she shares another video showing the children in the ward preparing to go home after being discharged, the shelter being cemented and a garbage bin and broom that had been provided. Her cry for help, paid off after all.

It is absurd though that it had to take being called out on social media for the right thing to be done. So what happens to those who are not as privileged as Aliona and, therefore, cannot record a video to bring the powers that be to account?

Yes, the health sector might be overwhelmed by a number of issues it has to handle, but subjecting Ugandans to such treatment cannot be justified. This could even be detrimental to the efforts made to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a story titled, 'Female, male patients share a ward in Nabweru' (Daily Monitor, 30), it is revealed that male, female and infant patients, have been forced to share a ward due to lack of space.

Peter Mwanja, the officer in charge of the facility, says all patients admitted to the facility sleep in the general ward. And that they have only three beds for adults and two for infants, which forces them to limit admissions.

Such stories are evidence of a sick health system that needs urgent upgrade.

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