26 Sep 2011

What is happening to health profession in Uganda?

One week ago, the press in Uganda reported a case of a pregnant mother (who was a practicing school teacher) who died from hemorrhage from Mbale Regional Referral Hospital. This latest deaths attracted condemnation from all sector of the Ugandan community.
The following letter to the editor from a public health specialist is an example; read on and weigh in with your own thoughts.
A typical Ugandan hospital maternity ward.

I write to condemn the behaviour of the medical personnel whose negligence led to the death of a teacher in Mbale last week. Medical personnel are bound by medical ethics and they are expected to respect those ethics. An emergency obstetric case brought to the referral hospital at 8am and left for 12 hours unattended to until she died is the highest degree of negligence. How shall we prevent such deaths in the future?
I personally believe medical work is charitable work. Some medical personnel consider their work unpleasant and of high occupational risks. A TB patient may cough blood right into your mouth. During difficult delivery, you may swallow the fluids from the womb. During surgical operations, you may get HIV through a needle pricks. They wonder whether the occupational risk they face is equivalent to the money they earn. The economy is hitting the medical personnel hard as well. Some may even be failing to send their children to good schools.
Government needs to review the pattern of expenditures in this country. The possibility of having excess money enough for all the services in the country is distant. The option we have is to prioritise our areas of expenditures so that the salaries of the people working in the health sector are reasonable. To reduce maternal deaths and improve the health of our population, let the government consider very seriously the pay of medical personnel.
May the soul of the teacher rest in eternal peace!
Dr Michael Amone Liri,
Public Health Specialist

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