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Friday, 19 September 2014

When African rulers have no time for sickness as the people they rule are treated in hospitals similar to pig-sties : I have no time to fall sick - Museveni

First read;

When utterances of African leaders make God laugh: “Am now 68 years and one of the things I don’t have a budget for is sickness’’. He explained that he no longer shook hands as a precaution against the deadly Ebola virus. Museveni  


Patients crowd Mulago hospital corridors as they wait to see doctors. In some cases, patients are forced to part with a few shillings in order for them to access quick medication. PHOTO by Abubaker Lubowa.

I have no time to fall sick - Museveni

Publish Date: Sep 10, 2014
I have no time to fall sick - Museveni
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

By Pascal Kwesiga and Nelson Kiva

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has asked people to focus more on preventive measures against diseases than treatment.

“For me I focus on prevention. I have no time to fall sick,” he said before asking “If I were falling sick how would I be doing your work?

He was speaking at the end of a three day retreat for 1,500 youth from Kiboga district at Kagobe Primary School playground.

Patients on the floor of Mulago Hospital, the National Referral Hospital.
“I last fell sick in 1984 after an attack in Hoima. That is when I suffered from malaria and I was treated,” the president said.

 Patients on the floor of Mulago Hospital, the National Referral Hospital.
The youth received training on livelihood development and patriotism. Museveni promised to give maize mills to the youth to enable them add value to the crop before selling it and more road construction equipment to the district.

Kiboga East Member of Parliament, James Kabajo, the district chairman, Israel Yiga and other local leaders told Museveni that they endorsed him as their sole presidential candidate for the 2016 general elections.

Many Ugandans consider Mulago hospital a death trap. Yet, in all fairness, there are some truly intrepid personnel, especially intern doctors, working under dire conditions to save lives at the national referral hospital.

I observed this during the more than ten days I spent at Mulago recently, attending to a sick relative.

Last week I argued, here, that Mulago hospital mirrored the crisis of a poor country. But even a poor country can build and maintain a decent health sector.  The crisis at Mulago mirrors a bigger national problem.

Mulago’s problem is two-sided. First, as the only national referral hospital, Mulago can barely handle the mass of people seeking services. From nurses and doctors to beds and ward-space, the hospital is under-staffed, under-stocked, and ill-equipped. This part of the problem is political and lies squarely at the footsteps of a government whose priorities are upside-down.

President Museveni repeatedly boasts about the number of health centres his government has constructed, while saying nothing about those facilities being dysfunctional. Because rural health centres can’t deal with even the smallest of complications, and district hospitals are equally in dire straits, many patients end up at regional referral hospitals, which forward them to Mulago.

In the end, Mulago becomes the only recourse for just about every complication. That we still have this sole national referral hospital, built more than fifty years ago, is a big indictment on the Museveni regime. Yet to expect a second and better national referral hospital, or a better-equipped and functional Mulago, is to be too optimistic.

This leads me to the second problem at Mulago, a social problem that requires a serious national conversation: our attitudes, demeanours, personas, and approaches towards work, whether in private or public organisations. This, I believe, is as big a problem as our inept and corrupt government.
Walk into any ward at “Mulago Hospital Complex” and the indifference, the total lack of any sense of urgency, the sluggishness, etc., on the part of especially nurses is utterly shocking. I am not even talking about passion and zeal. Being passionate and executing one’s duties with uttermost zeal is an individual trait, which cannot be expected of everyone.

Instead, I am referring to the deliberate failure to do one’s work as a professional nurse or doctor. It is deeply disturbing, depressing and painful seeing especially nurses, but also sadly some doctors, chat away casually even when patients desperately need to be attended to. And because patients/attendants are at their mercy, complaining is difficult to contemplate.

Intern doctors at Mulago work tirelessly, from morning to dusk, sometimes hardly affording a lunch break and in a sense overstretching their Hippocratic Oath. But the same can’t be said of senior doctors and nurses. The latter’s rudeness and blatant bribe-solicitation is rather baffling.

There is no doubt that health workers earn a scandalous salary; they certainly deserve better remuneration. But so is a professor at Makerere University, who earns peanuts. And so are our teachers, the men in uniform, and many other civil servants.

Poor remuneration can never be a sound justification for failure to perform as expected. You either quit the job or do your work. If you opt for the latter, you have to do exactly what you were hired to do. Not so for the staff at our national referral hospital. Foot-dragging and absenteeism (even though someone is officially present) are evident.

Employees of Mulago need the sympathy and solidarity of the public in their quest for a living wage and better working conditions. If they did their best under the presently deplorable conditions, the public would stand in strong support. However, as matters stand now, nurses at Mulago do not endear themselves to the public.

To be sure, what one observes at Mulago is the same attitude in most government offices and in the private sector. Walk into any bar or restaurant in Kampala and the employees, including managers and owners, hand you a cold reception and a poor service. The rationale is the same: poor pay. Just quit, for heaven’s sake. If you opt to stay, do your job, and do it well!

In reality, though, the problem is more than just poor pay. Many of us would rather not work, the reason we eagerly wait for the next public holiday and celebrate whenever government declares one. Yet, as a poor country, we should be working more and not less.

In sum, our overall national attitude towards work is appalling. And it has an insidiously cyclical and cumulative negative impact on national wealth. The nurse at Mulago who foot-drags and delays the discharge of a patient is chipping away at the country’s productivity. The doctor who absconds from duty and inadvertently causes the death of a Ugandan may be robbing us of a vital resource. The list is endless.
The author is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University, Evanston/Chicago-USA.

Posted by Mercy Nalugo

on  Sunday, August 14  2011 at  00:00
MPs on the Parliamentary Social Services Committee have rejected a Shs58 billion budget for Mulago Referral Hospital saying it does not reflect key health priorities and service delivery in the country. The legislators said the ministry of Health officials were being out of touch with reality as the hospital’s budget could not reflect the appalling and pathetic conditions that need quick redress.
No answers

The MPs also queried some of the expenditures undertaken by the health institution last financial year which the hospital authorities could not defend before the committee. “In Mulago’s maternity wing, you find five mothers delivering with only one nurse attending to them. If we mean business, we should first agree to expose the terrible conditions and address them. We want a functional budget,” Serere Woman MP, Ms Alice Alaso said.
She added: “The government must first pay attention to the living conditions of nurses and rehabilitate their dilapidated quarters. We gave the hospital money to obtain medical equipment but you are making poor people pay for them.” Mulago Hospital Complex has a bed capacity of 1,500 but there is an overwhelming high patient’s turn up.
Health workers are understaffed and poorly remunerated leading to a high staff turnover. Many negative stories have been reported about the hospital cannot help the poor people from access specialised treatment due to embezzlement of funds. There have also been complaints about lack of drugs in the hospital as most of them are siphoned to private clinics.
The acting executive director for Mulago, Dr Baterana Byarugaba, in his presentation indicated that all was well at the hospital and that a number of equipment had been installed and buildings renovated which angered MPs. He also highlighted how the hospital had acquired a comprehensive communication strategy that included a website only to be disappointed when the legislators surfed using their Black Berry phones and could not access the said services.
The MPs also queried a Shs1.6 billion allocation reflected in the hospital’s last financial year’s budget for rehabilitating a government building and administrative infrastructure which the officials could not defend. “You should harmonise your figures and clarify on the Shs1.6 billion otherwise we shall not approve your budget. Parliament is not ready to pass such budgets for management to enrich itself at the expense of Ugandans,” Dr Sam Lyomoki, the committee chairperson said on Friday.
Dr Medard Bitekyereze (Mbarara Municipality) criticised ministry officials for training doctors and letting them go for greener pastures yet there are not enough staff in the hospitals. “The interns do the donkey work at the hospital and are not given any allowances,” he said. Other legislators demanded to know why the people are made to pay in order to access their relatives who have passed away.
Wilberforce Yaguma (Kashaari County) wondered why there was no increment for health workers’ salaries. “You are asking for money to travel abroad yet you cannot facilitate doctors. Are you being serious,” he asked.

Museveni’s Intimate Moments with his Family

      Museveni’s Intimate Moments with his Family 
President Museveni and close family members at his country home in Rwakitura during the weekend
President Museveni and close family members at his country home in Rwakitura during the weekend
President Yoweri Museveni over the weekend celebrated his 70th birthday, exalting family life and urging young people, his children and grandchildren not to squander theirs.
“My young people, my children and grandchildren, what you need is to look after your health. Don’t squander it by taking alcohol, smoking and Malaya. If your health is good, you can do a lot of things. I don’t know what I would be if I did all that,” the President said.
The jovial President paid tribute to his wife Janet Museveni for raising great children and for building the family.
“When we got married, they were turbulent times, I didn’t look after the children, it was Janet. She was very strict. She did all the work and I am very grateful to her. The Banyankole say that when a man becomes of age he has to kwombeka (building a home),” said Museveni.
“She built our home. Okwombeka now means getting an education, after get a wife, then children and after that wealth. Janet has helped me do all this,” he said.
Museveni at his farm in Rwakitura
At a low key ceremony organised by the children and attended mainly by close family, the President and his family first attended a thanksgiving service led by Rev. Emmanuel Katamunanwire from Nshwere Church of Uganda and later hosted his guests to a family lunch were he shared warm thoughts with his children about family.
“Make sure you have families. Life without family is meaningless. I hear some people like it that way but this undermines the purpose life. I get a lot of happiness and purpose from my family,” said Museveni.
“It is eternity, you pass on the torch. It is a part of eternity to have children,” he said, adding that they must also work for wealth. This however, he said cannot happen if you don’t love and fear God.
President Museveni and Janet reading a bible during the thanksgiving ceremony at Rwakitura
The President urged his children to help each other always and not to allow another person to suffer if it is within their means to help them.
“Don’t be selfish, help each other and don’t let people divide you. When you do that, God does your work for you. I have not done my work for my family, I have been working for Uganda and for Africa and most of my work has been done by God. I hope many of you will reach this age and surpass it,” he said.
While paying tribute to his late parents Amos Kaguta and Esteri Kokundeka for raising and educating him, Museveni said that he is glad for the life that God has given him.
First Lady Janet Museveni and her daughters at Rwakitura
“I am grateful to my parents for raising and educating me, it gave me a very rare opportunity for me to do what I have done,” he said.

President Museveni who said that he was born approximately on September 15, 1944 said there were no hospital records of his birth but from accounts from his mother Esteri who said he was born three months after a massive cattle vaccination which he put in September and an old woman who said he was born when the old woman was harvesting Omugobe (cow peas leaves) that are usually harvested in September, he decided to be diplomatic and put his actual date on September 15, 1944.

“I may not tell you the exact date, that I am not sure, but certainly I am not in danger of not knowing the season,” he said

The First Lady and Minister of Karamoja Affairs Hon. Janet Museveni said there is need to really praise and thank God for the life of Museveni saying like the biblical Gideon, he has taken him through challenging times and sought him out to do a multitude of things for the country.

“Gods goodness has lifted this man and used him to do a multitude of things. We don’t take anything for granted. You have blessed us with wonderful children and grandchildren and we thank God,” she said.
Brig Muhoozi and wife Charlotte at the thanksgiving ceremony
Muhoozi speaks out
Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba who spoke on behalf of the children thanked God for the 70 years he has given his father and the 28 years they have lived as a family saying for many years they all lived apart.
“We thank Mzee for what he has done for us as a father and holding the family together despite his busy schedule as a head-of-state. We ask God to protect you. For many years, we thought we might not live to see this day due to a lot of problems and trials,” he said.

Edwin Karugire who also spoke, told a story of one of his meetings with President Museveni when he sought his daughter’s hand in marriage in a nervous encounter.
Kamuntu attending the function
“I had sent an emissary to him to talk about the “project” but he told the emissary “let him talk to me himself”. I had wanted to come with some uncles but he insisted I should talk to him myself. On the day I found him watching discovery channel it was a World War 2 documentary. About Field Marshall Montgomery and General Rommel and others. For me I was more worried about General Museveni whose daughter I had come to ask for. He watched the documentary from beginning to end as I sweated in silence,” he said.

Karugire said President Museveni then talked to him about the merits of sobriety and even challenged him to a fight to see who is stronger but he declined.

At the end the President cut a cake with his granddaughter Nzima whose birthday is two days before his.
Museveni's sister Violet Kajuburi and her husband arriving for the thanksgiving ceremony
First family members in a group photo