The army has defended the qualifications of military doctors deployed at Mulago National Referral Hospital to attend to patients, following an on-going doctors’ strike that has paralysed health services countrywide.
The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces Spokesman, Brig Richard Karemire, on Monday said in a press statement that force had deployed its “highly qualified” doctors to support current efforts to save lives as the industrial action by medical workers persists.
“The insinuations that these officers are not qualified are unfortunate to say the least. UPDF will not be deterred from its historical duty to serve the people,” Brig Karemire said.
He said their team is already at Kiruddu and Kawempe hospitals where it is providing emergency and specialised medical services.
He said the deployment is being coordinated by Col Dr Stephen Kusasira, the UPDF Director of Medical Services who holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery and Master of Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Makerere University.
On Monday, Dr Ekwaro Obuku, the president of Uganda Medical Association told KFM Radio, an affiliate radio station of Daily Monitor that the UPDF doctors are junior and not cable of handling some critical procedures like emergency caesarean section.
“Those doctors from the UPDF are very junior. Some of them are not able to conduct critical procedures like caesarean section. This is the credible report we have received from consultants from Kawempe Hospital,” Dr Obuku said, adding that the problem is bigger than they thought.
However, Brig Karemire said the army doctors are highly qualified and have been instrumental in saving lives of soldiers and civilians in many operational areas.
He said some of the military medical officers deployed include; Dr Ronald Oboth, Dr Gideon Nuwangira and Dr Patricia Otim, among others.
Meanwhile, fourth and fifth year students of Makerere University Medical School want the semester extended due the on-going doctors’ strike which has affected their progressive assessment in the hospital wards.
In a meeting at their school on Monday, the students told the Dean of the Medical school, Prof Moses Kamya, that they have lost two weeks of their practical clinical experience.
Mr Enos Kigozi, a fifth year student said their practical lessons cannot progress when few patients go to Mulago, Kawempe and Kiruddu hospitals.
“We want the government to resolve the doctors’ demand because our semester has been interrupted. We don’t have the patients to learn from and our teachers who are among the striking doctors who no longer attend to us,” Mr Kigozi said.
In a letter to the head of Department Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the students decried the very low patient turn up in the hospital wards.
“This has left a very big student-to-patient ratio which has presented a huge bottleneck to our learning. A case in point is one patient being monitored by more than six medical students all vying for hands on skills,” the students’ letter reads in part.
They state in the letter that only emergency services are being offered at the Gynaecology Annex and the Labour Suite.
Ms Esther Ndagire, a fourth year student on the surgical rotation said there are no patients to attend to since the Eye, Nose and Throat as well as the Ophthalmology wards remain closed.