Wednesday November 9 2016

Re-open Makerere to save Mulago patients

Mulago hospital has been hit by a crisis

Mulago hospital has been hit by a crisis following the closure of Makerere University. FILE PHOTO 

By Editorial

The provision of medical and other services at Mulago National Referral Hospital and its subordinate satellite facilities in Kiruddu and Kawempe, both Kampala suburbs, has literally broken down. Why? Because President Museveni unilaterally closed Makerere University, depriving Mulago hospital of critical manpower provided by graduate and undergraduate medical students at Makerere’s College of Health Sciences.

We are alarmed, as is the nation, because the quality of healthcare at public facilities across the country has been on a steady decline, not progress as was the campaign slogan for the President’s re-election. Any slight deterioration such as in the instant case consigns the population to the worst outcomes; patients dying needlessly either unattended or in the hands of exhausted, overstretched health workers.

It was possible to avoid Makerere’s summary closure which, besides being a costly heart-break to parents and students, has turned out to be an inadvertent death sentence for patients unconnected to the cause(s) for the closure.

Our leaders must act with reason and logic, not on the basis of personal anger or frustration. Applying sound judgment would have prevented such a decision being taken without weighing its dire broader consequences.

This is why we welcome First Lady Janet Museveni’s November 4, guidance, as the Education minister, that: “The College of Health Sciences, the post-graduate students, medical doctors and consultants of Makerere University shall continue to work in the hospitals they have been deployed, as this provides the much-needed human resource at the medical centres.”

We now urge her to go the whole hog: Use her proximity to persuade the President to reverse his decision. For this newspaper considers re-openning of the institution as the pragmatic, commonsense solution to address the different facets of problems created by its closure.

Here is why. The medical students handle patients at Mulago Hospital and elsewhere on the basis of their status. They are not salaried.

Besides the hands-on during ward rounds, they are justly entitled to be taught and to learn through lectures. Converting them to just “manpower” amounts to official exploitation, which we abhor.

Favouring them to continue learning to the exclusion of their peers on the other hand breeds inequality and injustice. As a country and people with conscience, we should settle for a win-win solution. The closure is agonising to parents, a colossal damage to education and businesses, and an unqualified punishment to students and Uganda’s future. We, therefore, demand the university’s immediate reopening.

The issue: Makerere University closure.
Our view: The closure is agonising to parents, a colossal damage to education and businesses, and an unqualified punishment to students and Uganda’s future.
We, therefore, demand the university’s immediate reopening.

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