UNHCO has been following the events that happened over the last 4 days in Mulago Referral hospital. Patients admitted to Mulago Hospital with spinal injuries early this week went on the strike abandoning their ward, demonstrating against lack of medical attention. The patients mainly accident victims, decided to move out of their ward into the corridors of the hospital bringing most of the activities at the hospital to a standstill.  UNHCO had discussions with Mulago hospital management and some patients. UNHCO staff visited the hospital on Tuesday and Wednesday to understand the issues and work on the way forward with the hospital management and the following are the findings;

Even with the challenges the hospital and the country overall is facing of lack of enough human resources, medicines, equipment and increased number of patients, it has been clear to all stakeholders that there has been neglect of duty of some of the health workers but there are no mechanisms for patients’ engagement and redress.

Some health workers interacted with including Ms. Sarah Mulongo, the Public Relations Officer of Mulago hospital pointed out the shortage of staff yet the rate of accidents that leave patients in critical condition is very high. She singled out the shortage of anaesthetists who are expected to administer the anaesthetic drug to prevent the patient from feeling pain. Mulago has seven anaesthetists out of the 40 required. Three of the seven are attached to Makerere University Medical School while the rest of the staff are diploma holders and cannot handle the overwhelming number of patients. Ms. Sarah also pointed out the increased number of patients out of accidents that does not match the facilities and misconduct of some of the health workers. Mulago which is supposed to be a referral hospital is overwhelmed by the increased number of patients, lack of enough health workers, medicines and equipment.

Mulago hospital called for a press conference which UNHCO attended. UNHCO demanded for establishment of mechanisms for empowering patients through avenues for their voices to be heard. Mulago welcomed the idea though they said they were not able to fund. Overall the following are the recommendations made by UNHCO;

Next steps

1.      UNHCO to continue discussions with Mulago hospital of setting up consumer desks and will work to ensure consumer issues are integrated in planning and decision making. Through such consumer desks, change can be brought about where overall patients’ health rights are respected.

2.      UNHCO demanded for CSOs to be represented on the hospital ethics committee this will ensure representation of patients’ issues.

3.      UNHCO also called for a behavioural change among health providers towards service seekers and to understand and integrate the Patients’ Rights into their work.

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