To have the Cuban doctors or nor to have



Cuban Doctors; Wrong diagnosis for Uganda's Health Sector

Mable Twegumye Zake - @MableTwegumye

Mable Twegumye ZakeMable Twegumye Zake

Issues affecting Uganda rise and fall like a day's rain. By the time the next rains come, they also represent another issue and the former is forgotten only to rise again with repercussions and the victim is often the citizen.

I started hearing about doctor's complaints of poor pay when I was a little girl and that compliant was always coupled with “no or not enough drugs and medical equipment in government hospitals.”

Then the “brain drain” answers we often wrote in exams through out school especially of Ugandan doctors who opt for jobs abroad because of poor working conditions and poor pay in Uganda.

Over twenty years have passed by, I am now a grown woman and the same complaints have only intensely increased. I have witnessed myself first-hand of these occurrences in our government hospitals. I have been angry and even lost my temper on numerous occasions at some of our medical personnel during instances where they haven’t been present in hospital whenever I have had a critical patient or when I have personally been sent out to purchase drugs outside of a government facility.

These are not bedtime stories but the real face of Uganda's medical industry that if the citizens themselves started relaying their ordeal about government hospitals and doctors, their accounts would be another box office “Wakanda” historic sale if given the best cast.

This brings me to the viscous cycle affecting the health sector that this government has blindly failed to comprehend and has existed since I was a little girl and even probably before I was born; poor working conditions, poor remuneration of medical personnel, absence of medicines and supplies in hospitals.

But please wake up Government! Open your eyes! This, you have heard so many times, it is not news. This is where you need to improve and the situation will slowly get better. Count the number of occasions members of the health professionals have gone on strike or threatened to lay down their tools, what have been the underlying factors? So now after careful scrutiny during the many sessions in that ad hoc committee of what am assuming had great minds, all you summed up as grappling Uganda's health sector was to RECRUIT CUBAN DOCTORS as the solution?

You have refused to listen to the cries of Ugandans! You have failed to listen to your own doctors who have for over thirty years, given advise and handed you workable solutions to a vocation they understand and you always choose the quick fix which will not solve the problem.

Have you fixed the challenges that have sabotaged local doctors from refusing to work in upcountry medical facilities where you are going to send the Cuban doctors? Will the Cubans be immune to these challenges? These challenges are the same primary colours visibly seen and viscously returning year in-year-out yet you keep ignoring them?

Uganda's health sector has over the years slowly turned into an incurable disease yet the cure is screaming to be retrieved but the ministry and stakeholders are blind in disguise moving with a walking stick knocking door to door for solutions. You have slowly cut off the wings of the country’s medical fraternity and still expected them to continue flying.

Well, flown they have to other countries, others into Private practice, some in business ventures and out of the profession and you; flying your relatives to hospitals abroad and now flying in your Cuban doctors, who is being fooled?

In protecting Medics, we must first protect patients.

Dalton Kaweesa - @DaltonKaweesa

Dalton KaweesaDalton Kaweesa

Fighting the importation is fine, thinking of it solving Uganda’s medical challenges in deeply problematic. Let me start with a real life story. Former Minister of Health Dr. Stephen Malinga was rushed to Butebo health centre IV for medical attention when he got a seizure from his country home in pallisa. But there was no one to attend to him , and was referred to Mbale referral Hospital. He didn’t make it to hospital – an an avoidable nefarious ticket to join the heavenly choir. Lets go back, re-read the story and give it deeper soul search for the trajectory it demonstrates; a former health minister, and a medical doctor at that , couldn’t receive the attention that he required - not even a first aid to sustain him to reach the referral hospital.

A few numbers here. The medical doctors to patient ration as per 2017 report indicates 1: 25, 725 , the nurse to patients is 1: 11,000 - astronomically above what the world health organization recommends.

I have been told that the Hippocratic oath calls on the medical fraternity to save life first before anything. I have friends and family who are medical doctors , it is astonishing to listen to their line of argument. May be for the benefit of the readers, the medical association thinks that the gesture is meant to intimidate them out of their demand for the increase in their remuneration and the importation doesnt in anyway fix the healthcare system.

I want to pay the medical association a compliment in that regard demand for salary increase by saying that it doesn’t solve the problem of ratio of patient – doctor ratio. It is would be foolish of me to claim that Uganda medical association demands are not noble , every one understands how poorly paid Ugandan doctors are , unavailable facilities - in short we have a sick healthcare system.

In the quest for better services offered to the doctors , the medics shoot themselves in the feet because in their oath what comes first is to secure the patients.

In Uganda every year 1.5 million babies are born , that means a stretch on infrastructure and even human resource. It therefore goes minus saying that , for Uganda to meet the benchmark of hat is required by world health organization in realm of human resources will take us more than a century. So having understood the abyss that we find our selves in, what have to get astop gap measure. Lets have people in the rural areas being treated as government works on long lasting solutions that are in the medical profession and health care all together.

And the solutions are not far from us. We can state thinking national service especially to the medics that have been sponsored by government, do away with cost sharing like in the earlier days. I can suggest many more ideas but let me first drum much bashed argument of bringing Cuban doctors home.

There is fear based on ignorance that the doctors are going to be more costly that anything else. Come on, a medical doctor from Cuba is going to be paid or is paid 68 dollars. Lets say they will go upto USD300, this still falls short. I know economists are fast to talk about foreign currency flight but what isn’t attracting it anyway.

If we had these Cubans in these areas perhaps we would have Dr. Malinga still smoking his cigar as he loved in his spare time and teaching us about the medicine. Let’s think bigger than today, we cannot solve our problems in ago, that is a lie, we can however begin from somewhere. As government tries to phase out the health centre II, lets have these medics ready to work in far to reach areas come in and treat our people , save them from immunisable diseases.

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