How Otile balances fun and medicine

For Dr Jacob Otile, fun and medicine have to be balanced.

What you need to know:

  • Dr Otile who hails from Acoge Village, Apac District, says the notion that doctors are very serious people is the reason many of them do not get to live long, live with stress and fatigue, high rates of suicide and depression among others.

During this year’s Nyege Nyege festival, a photo on Twitter  of someone’s stitches on the face made rounds causing both debate and commendation. One of the attendees of the festival had  got a deep cut and rushed to the emergency medical team for help, where they found Dr Jacob Otile who did his best.

After the stitching, the researcher  and executive director of Dr Abdulla Ahmed Hudayfa Foundations, asked tweeps to rate his work; the before and after of the injury.

We  caught up with  this medic on  what his experience at the festival was like and he offered some insights as well. 

“I was at Nyege Nyege as part of the medical emergency service team  as was requested by the organisers. But I  also wanted to have a feel of what exactly goes on at that event,” he says. 

“Thank God the man (injured reveller whose photo was subject of discussion on Twitter) was with his peers who rushed him to our tent for help and we worked on him in time,” he recalls. 

He says afterwards, he kept to tabs on the patient to monitor his recovery.

Dr Otile says he was impressed by how much the festival organisers invested in safety and security of the revellers.  

“In terms of emergency preparedness; medical services and the Red cross team, standby ambulance, security, the bomb squad, Community Tourism police, and military all watched out for the revellers’  safety,” the medic says. 

“I cannot forget,  the individuals that I attended to who included, those with critical conditions such as profuse bleeding,  severe injuries,  malaria, intoxication, and sprains . It was such a joy to see them get out and still have fun afterwards.”

An all-time serious profession?

Dr Otile who hails from Acoge Village, Apac District, says the notion that doctors are very serious people is the reason many of them do not get to live long, live with stress and fatigue, high rates of suicide and depression among others.

‘’Doctors have emotions and should, therefore express themselves freely. I was at Nyege Nyege first of all as part of the emergency medical team  but also I wanted to have a feel of what exactly goes on as opposed to hearsay. I would do it again and again,” he shares. He adds his view of the event, Dr Otile notes that the festival would be safer if the organisers solved the accomodation situation by setting up a comfortable camping area.  

Do social media users ever get him angry?

“Tweeps can get under your skin. Most of the time, you ought to set your anger bar so low if you want to enjoy Twitter.  I have  learnt that most times a response (well-thought through) rather than a reaction (due to emotions) is one way to survive on Twitter. Most importantly, one ought not to pay attention to everything negative that is said. Of course,  I have had a fair share of being angry but I know my boundaries,”   he reveals.

Lessons  from Nyege Nyege

There are very many emergencies that happen at social gatherings and doctors can never be prepared enough for them, but we always have to try and make those services available.”

He cautions non medics that attend such events to always move in groups. “Also, avoid dark spots, limit your intake of alcohol, otherwise you end up intoxicated and damaging vital organs,” he cautions and emphasises, “always use condoms.”

Dr Otile cannot help but also advise revellers to be ware  of conmen, phone snatchers among ,others.

Highlight of his medical journey 

‘’While I was in Kitgum (St Joseph Hospital), there was a mother who had a bleeding complication (abruptio placentae) and because of so much delay including transport and finances, she arrived late  and as an emergency case.

“I examined her and still felt the heart of the baby, faint as it was, we rushed her to theatre without adequate preparation and to cut the long story short, two lives were saved. And that experience is one of my pinned tweets on Twitter, because it was really satisfying,’’ he recounts.

He adds that  he  has worked on  so many other major surgical problems that were inflicted on people  during the LRA war,.

He cannot forget a patient who brought him and his team so many gifts that he had to distribute to almost everyone at the hospital and a personal gift that he framed on his wall calling him an angel for saving her life when she got a complication during  field work.

  Work and social media 

The medic runs a Twitter and Instagram account under his real name. “We all have 24hours, it is how you use them that matters; there is time for everything, but most importantly striking a balance between work and fun is key,” he says.

 ‘’I use Twitter to share medical-related knowledge that many may not know or ignore. I have been in our public health sector and know most of the challenges it faces, so I use my social media to advocate for better health for not only individuals but also a better health system for everyone,’’ he relates.

Life  mantra 

 The medic says if it feels good, enjoy and make the most of it, if it feels bad, cry and move on to the following day. Most importantly in any of the circumstances, do not fear to express emotions.

“We die once, but live every day, stop living your life like a rehearsal thinking the real one will come tomorrow and live a life of purpose and know that one day, you will be gone. Your legacy matters,” he explains. 

Typical day

He wakes up to a 12-hour shift between Monday and Friday. 

“I deal with a variety of  emergency cases such as cesarean sections and other surgical operations.  I also consult with some organisations and schools as their medical examiner, although most of those are on scheduled days including home visits,’’ he says.  Dr Otile says he tries as much as possible to keep his weekends free to run his errands.

He is a Manchester United fan,  and currently,   the vice-captain of Uganda Medical Association  football team. “We hold monthly friendly matches with different corporate companies,” he says.


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