No wonder Gen. Museveni and family don’t go to government hospitals.
[My Free Thoughts]
When I hear the dozens of lies Uganda’s life president Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni is trading for votes in his gallivanting trips across the country to extend his 40-year rule, the most infuriating one is that there is medicine in the government hospitals accessible for free to all Ugandans.
He’s ruled since 1986 and wants to continue the regime of terror and corruption come January 14, 2012 when Ugandans head to the polls.
Museveni’s government hospitals are death traps. Every sensible and responsible citizen should take Gen. Tibuhaburwa’s spew with contempt. If government hospitals are functioning well and are for free according to Gen. Tibuhaburwa, why then are cash-strapped citizens opting for private hospitals where everything is paid for including consultation?
Back in July, my wife and I entered the gates of Iganga regional hospital to seek free services. We were welcomed by a fleet of non-functioning ambulances which occupied the largest part of the humongous parking lot. Nice looking buildings sprawled on almost a square kilometer of land. The best looking one is a mortuary. These government structures look wonderful, I thought to myself. Why had we been wasting money in private hospitals when all long there has been such a splendid facility? Little did I know that the hospital was like a succulent ripe papaya being wheeled on a barrow downtown but when sliced open, squirming maggots burst forth. Recall that a few years ago The Daily Monitor published a story in May 2016 about a hospital in Moroto that looked spectacular from outside–inside, dead bodies would remain uncollected on beds for up to three days. (Interestingly the link to the story has now been disabled on The Monitor’s website but it’s widely available elsewhere via Google search. The hospital even wanted to sell unclaimed bodies).
When we entered the maternity ward, there were hundreds of women, ensconced on the benches, hungering for the same services we were seeking. We were there for antenatal screening. I was the only man who’d escorted his wife—I wonder why some men dodge this responsibility— and hospital staff heaped encomiums on me.
Now let me tell you the horror.
The hospital had no gloves. The midwives pointed to a pharmacy right opposite the gate where I could buy a pair of surgical gloves for about 54 cents (2,000 shillings)—nothing to sneeze at in a country where average annual income is about $780. I took it with equanimity and forked out the money. Maybe the hospital was just out of stock, maybe the government had not supplied.
When I returned, I found a man whose wife had been brought in with excruciating pain. She had been sent to do a scan at a clinic, also across from the hospital. I was furious. A whole hospital without a scan? Without gloves? When the scan results came out, it was revealed that the woman had no amniotic fluid in the womb. Her seven-months old fetus was in imminent danger. The only solution was to remove the premature baby. The man said he had only $40 (150,000 shillings) in cash with him. He said he’d sold his only goat to raise the money. The doctor who was supposed to perform the surgery wanted more money. This is a doctor who is paid —or is supposed to be paid—a salary by the government. Either the salary is picayune or he is greedy, so he charges an extra fee in a government facility which is supposed to be for free.
This week when I escorted my wife back to the death trap cum hospital, she was given iron and folic tablets to swallow up to when she gives birth. She also got a tetanus injection. After several days of swallowing the medicine, we realized from the label on the container that it had expired last month. Now I wonder how many illiterate villagers in rural Uganda are given medicines or injections after expiration dates at the government hospital dispensaries. How may fatalities have been caused by such negligence?
In early 2018, my father started complaining of stomach aches. He stopped eating. Whatever he swallowed would be ejected immediately. Hospitals diagnosed peptic and gastric ulcers. He was put on syrups and tabs. He started eating medicine as his food. The condition deteriorated. Later that year we took him to a private hospital where endoscopy was done. The results showed that his liver was damaged—it had become cancerous. The doctor who diagnosed the problem said he would have been saved had the discovery been made earlier. The doctors in government hospitals were giving him medicine for ulcers yet he had a liver problem. Because of the malpractice, my father died in September 2019.
Our great leaders, beginning with the visionary Gen. Tibuhaburwa, a.k.a Museveni, have no faith in the government hospitals. They fly to Europe, India, and the U.S. for medical treatment on Ugandan taxpayers’ expense. The death traps are for ordinary Ugandans.
As the Ugandan senior law partner David Mpanga observed in his book, “Politics of Common Sense,” Uganda is like a restaurant where chefs and waiters serve food which they themselves dare not eat. Yet, after 34 years of serving the nation a meal he himself won’t eat, Gen. Tibuhaburwa, a.k.a Museveni, wants five more years come January 14.
I want to say things that are not printable.
Novelist and regime torture-survivor Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is the author of “The Greedy Barbarian” and “Banana Republic, Where Writing Is Treasonous.”