Doctors decry heavy workload, shortages in public hospitals

Thursday May 16 2019

Operating room: Uganda Heart Institute surgeons

Operating room: Uganda Heart Institute surgeons conduct a unique open-heart surgery known as coronary artery bypass grafting on in 2018. COURTESY PHOTO  


Kampala. Specialist medical doctors from different fields such as paediatrics, oncology and neurosurgery have asked government to attract and train more staff to lighten their workload.

There are only 1,530 specialists of the 6,290 medical and dental practitioners in the country, according to records from the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC).

As a result, Dr John Ssekabira, the president of the Association of Surgeons of Uganda, said there a huge backlog of surgical cases in the country because the few specialists are overwhelmed, which compromises the quality of healthcare.

“Recently, the World Health Assembly [decision-making body of WHO] observed that surgical conditions such as cancer and trauma contribute more than HIV and malaria to mortality and so the surgical burden needs to be addressed to reduce the burden,” Dr Ssekabira yesterday.

He was speaking at a press conference organised by the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA), an independent body that fosters post-graduate education in sub-Saharan Africa.
COSECSA will hold their 20th examinations and scientific conference in Uganda in November.

Dr Joel Kiryabwire, the president of the Neurosurgical Society of Uganda (NSU), added that the problem of heavy workload is accelerated by the fact that “we don’t train super specialists in our universities and those few who have managed to train have had to pay for themselves yet it takes a long period of time, which creates a very big surgical burden”.

COSECSA offers a cheaper opportunity for medical doctors to train in different areas of specialty such as neurosurgery from locally accredited hospitals both in their countries of origin and the region.

The non-profit organisation currently operates in 10 countries; Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.