Govt rejects request to transfer medical interns from Mubende hospital

Members of Doctors without borders NGO set up an Ebola treatment isolation unit at the Mubende regional referral hospital in Uganda on September 24, 2022. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • According to the latest information from the Health ministry, of the six health workers who are infected, one is in critical condition while the rest are in stable condition. 

The Ministry of Health has rejected the Uganda Medical Association’s proposal that medical interns in Mubende hospital should be transferred to other health facilities to safeguard them from Ebola infection.

The association, which brings together all doctors, had made this request following the confirmation of six cases of Ebola infection among health workers in Mubende hospital.

“We are not happy with the Ministry of Health keeping our interns there. These are people who are still learning and gaining more skills [on how to handle patients and prevent infection],” Dr Herbert Luswata, the secretary general of the association, told this publication yesterday.

He added: “They don’t have the practicing licence. This means they are not even eligible to benefit from the risk allowance. If any of them dies, they cannot be compensated by anyone. They should be redistributed to other hospitals.”

According to the latest information from the Health ministry, of the six health workers who are infected, one is in critical condition while the rest are in stable condition. 

However, Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director general of Health Services at the Health ministry, said they will not tolerate fear.

Interns
“Those interns are in hospital to learn. Ebola is one of the medical conditions that they will treat when they graduate as doctors,” he said.

Dr Mwebesa said the country has experienced seven outbreaks of Ebola and two outbreaks of Marburg, meaning all health workers should be trained to manage such diseases.

However, Dr Luswata said the Health ministry does not want to redistribute the medical interns for fear of spreading the disease to other areas.

“But I think they can first isolate them for a month somewhere and monitor them. If they are fine, then they can redistribute them to other health facilities,” he said.

“That Ebola is not going away tomorrow. So we don’t think it is good to keep exposing them to the disease. Whatever the interns are doing is more of risking their lives, not internship.”

The country has lost some health workers in the past to Ebola. 
Dr Mathew Lukwiya is one of the doctors who contracted and died of Ebola during the outbreak in 2000.
Since the latest Ebola outbreak was announced last Tuesday, there are six confirmed deaths and 31 confirmed cases, according to the Health ministry. This excludes suspected cases. 

But Dr Mwebesa said: “We have told those interns that they should relax, instead of behaving like cowards and panicking, they should talk to their seniors to train them on how to handle Ebola and prevent infections and how to manage patients with Ebola,” he said.

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