The Daily Monitor article, “Safety turns into a lottery at Uganda’s health ailing sector”, that ran on September 13, reminds us that patient safety is at an all-time low in Uganda.
Like many other countries, patients face not only poor workmanship but also dangers from people within and without the facilities who come to harm them.
In the article, a woman spoke of how she and her daughter who was a minor were attacked by an assailant in the night at St Kizito Health Centre III. The young girl was defiled. The same article talks about a man who, posing as a security guard, raped six women in one day, in September last year.
Apart from these incidents, patients have been treated by pretenders who were not qualified. They have been treated by medical personnel who do not have the right equipment and are doing the best they can with what they have. Patients have been sent away from hospitals and centres, because they did not have money to bribe someone to give them a service. This happens even in facilities owned by the government and are supposed to offer free services.
The Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC) is an organisation whose vision, according to their website, is to protect society from abuse of medical and dental practice as well as research on human beings in order to effectively contribute to a healthy and productive population. In the Monday article, according to an annual 2020 report, the UMDPC is constrained by lack of infrastructure, transport and funding. And so while they may receive complaints including unlicensed facilities operating, poor infection prevention, inadequate qualified staff and many others, from around the country, they are not able to deal with them appropriately and effectively.
The UMDPC has a huge mandate to ensure the public is taken care of when they seek medical treatment. In situations where people are out to make money in any way, the medical facilities are a big target since many people are willing to do whatever it takes to keep themselves and their loved ones in good health.
This means that they are also vulnerable to cheats, criminals and all sorts of con-men.
Deliberate effort should be made to provide the UMDPC with what it needs to do its job well.
And even then, the Ministry of Health needs to work towards ensuring medical centres are properly facilitated and maintained in the first place to avoid patients facing harm as they seek help.
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