Health ministry stuck as Mulago crisis deepens after Makerere closure

Friday November 11 2016
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Makerere University medical students at the College of Health Sciences discuss during a meeting in a move to reject a call for them to resume working in their respective hospitals of deployment before the university is open . PHOTO BY COLLEB MUGUME

KAMPALA: Ministry of Health has said there is nothing they can do to solve the medical personnel shortage at Mulago Hospital, subsequent to the withdrawal of over 300 postgraduate medical students who also treat patients as part of their medical studies.
Mulago Hospital and the subordinate city division hospitals of Kawempe and Kiruddu and other Kampala Capital City Authority health centres said they were strained by the high turnout of patients following the president’s directive to close Makerere University last week.

Dr Asuman Lukwago, the outgoing ministry of health permanent secretary, said the education ministry was responsible for the university and therefore, there is nothing his ministry could do to save the situation.
“We would be contradicting ourselves. Ministry of education is responsible and not us as ministry of health. There is nothing we can do,” Dr Lukwago told daily Monitor in a phone interview.
However, an earlier directive by the education minister, Ms Janet Kataha Museveni, to open the College of Health sciences to enable the students and lecturers to resume their studies was also defied by the latter.

The postgraduate students did not budge, arguing that government was subjecting them to “modern day slavery” since they are not paid to treat patients.
Several meeting between the postgraduate medical students and the administrators at the college of Health science to convince them to go back to the hospitals did not bear fruits.
“We have unanimously decided to maintain our stand not to go back to the hospitals until the University is open and our lecturers have reported on duty,” Dr Solomon Kyazze the president of the post graduate medical students’ association told Daily Monitor after a closed door meeting.
Dr Alexander Bangirana, the Assistant Clinical Head accident and emergency, said the causality ward in Mulago Hospital which receives over 100 patients on a daily basis is strained by the personnel crisis.

“The initial health care is available but there is a shortage of specialists,” Dr Bangirana said.
To improvise the available staff, Mulago hospital spokesperson, Enock Kusasira said the hospital has resorted to giving more attention to critical cases considered as life threatening.
“We are concentrating less on out patients especially those whose cases are not life threatening,”Kusasira said.
At the hospital, patients have to wait for hours before seeing the health workers. The case is not different from other affiliate hospitals and health facilities.

On a daily basis, Mulago handles over 10,000 patients, 4,000 of whom are in-patients.

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