Doctors, agents ‘stealing’ patients from Mulago

Friday April 23 2021
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Patients at one of the units at Mulago Hospital wait to be attended to in April 2018. Photo/Rachel Mabala

By Nobert Atukunda

Mulago National Referral Hospital has raised concerns over a section of health facility agents and some of their staff   diverting patients from the hospital to other health facilities.

Dr Byarugaba Baterana, the executive director of Mulago hospital, yesterday said the agents have on different occasions misled patients and  needed to be investigated.

“There are a number of health facilities in names of clinics, pharmacies surrounding Mulago from almost the gate. A few days ago they did a wrong operation on a child. Masqueraders are now using those areas and we need to see whether to delicense or license them to prevent that wastage of human life,” Dr Baterena said.

 Mulago hospital said the agents target patients while in parking lots before diverting them to private facilities.

 “We have also noted that our own health workers may be diverting patients from the hospital to their clinics and other hospitals where they work,” Dr Baterena said.

He vowed to crack  the whip on those involved in this unprofessional act.

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 However, a representative from the anti-corruption unit, who preferred anonymity told this newspaper that they would update the hospital on the progress of their probe in about two to three months time.

Appeal

Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, the general secretary Uganda Medical Association (UMA), said the problem arises when the patients are diverted to substandard health facilities and that government needs to sensitise the public about such deeds.

In 2019, President Museveni directed the closure of private pharmacies operating in public health facilities as he argued that they are owned by health workers who, instead of prescribing government medicines, recommend the sale of their own drugs.

During the weekly support supervision at Mulago hospital, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, the State Minister of Health in-charge of General Duties, said government will fight such corruption acts.

The public has on different occasions accused staff at Mulago hospital of extortion but some staff members dismiss the allegations saying  such acts are by masqueraders.

As one of the ways to curb this vice, Ms Nabbanja  called  for labelling of staff uniform for easy identification.

Reopening of Mulago

 The Ministry of Health has revealed that Mulago National Specialised Hospital has taken long to reopen due to the bad deal they had with ROKO Construction Company.

“I am told it is bankrupt. We could not continue with ROKO because they could not even pay their sub-contractors. It’s at that level of management and now government is charged with the responsibility to pay these other sub-contractors but not through ROKO,” Ms Nabbanja.

The construction and renovation works that started in 2014 were supposed to be completed in 2016 but delayed due to lack of finances.

However, government later approved extra funding.

Mulago National Specialised hospital that had reopened partially with the hope of being fully operational in March last year was interrupted by coronavirus outbreak.

Mr David Nuwamanya, the  Mulago National Referral Hospital Administrator, said currently the lower Mulago has reopened partially  following reduction in number of Covid-19 cases.


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