Patients suffer delays as Mulago interns strike


KAMPALA. It is exactly midday and Ms Jane Nakate has been waiting for the last two hours before she is admitted at Kiruddu Hospital’s infectious diseases ward.
“I found a long line and it seems there are only a few doctors serving today,” Ms Nakate reluctantly told this reporter.
At the same time, Ms Patience Atwooki cannot access the medicine she has been prescribed because some of the pharmacies at Kawempe General Hospital are closed.

“The pharmacy where I am supposed to get the medicine they have prescribed for me is closed and I can’t afford to buy them from private clinics,” Ms Atwooki said.
The two patients are just among hundreds who appeared stranded at Mulago National Referral Hospital and its subordinate facilities of Kiruddu and Kawempe general hospitals on Monday morning.
The delays resulted from a strike by medical interns at the three hospitals which started last Saturday over non-payment of their three months’ allowances amounting to Shs600, 000 each per month.
The facilitation is given to cater for their accommodation, transport and meals during the one year of training for the graduate medical students.

“Some of the pharmacies here are run by intern pharmacists since the staff are not enough,” a nurse at Kiruddu hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal told Daily Monitor in a phone interview.
Another medical officer at Kawempe hospital, which largely handles women deliveries, said mothers had to wait for even more than three hours before they are attended to unlike other days when interns help to receive them.
“The outcomes are always worse and sometimes you either lose the mother or the baby because of the overwhelming numbers,” the medical officer said in a phone interview.

At the hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology ward, the medical officer said nearly 80 mothers are received daily, 60 of which are deliveries. Of these, 25, he said are caesarean. Out of the 20 staff deployed at the ward on a particular day, five of them are interns. The three hospitals have a total of 206 interns.
When contacted yesterday, Kawempe hospital administrator, Ms Sarah Ndibarekera, asked to be given time till today before she gets back to us.
However, the situation at the two hospitals is contrary to the earlier claims by Mulago hospital’s executive director Byarugaba Baterana that operations at the three hospitals could continue without the interns.

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