Uganda’s Health Care System, Like Dr. Oledo, Is on Its Knees

Dr.Samuel Odongo Oledo, who was shown recently in the media kneeling before Gen. Museveni.

Photo: YouTube

The Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has washed its hands of the actions of its president, Dr.Samuel Odongo Oledo, who was shown recently in the media kneeling before Gen. Museveni.

The otherwise good doctor got down on bended knee as if he we proposing to Gen. Museveni during the Youth Patriotism Symposium at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala on Saturday.

Oledo, who is singularly earthbound in the discharge of his duties, led members of UMA to kneel down to thank Gen. Museveni for his ‘visionary leadership”.

“Your Excellency, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, you have been the engine behind the improved welfare of health workers,” Oledo said.

Immediately, several highly embarrassed members in UMA distanced themselves from Oledo’s ridiculous behaviour.

In a statement released on Sunday, UMA Vice President, Dr.Edith Nakku- Joloba and Secretary General Dr.Herbert Luswata said Oledo was on his own.

“Uganda Medical Association is non-partisan and therefore doesn’t participate in political activities of a partisan nature. UMA respects, honours and is committed to service to its members and to the public as an association of professional promulgated under the laws of Uganda,” UMA said in a statement.

UMA added that Oledo attended the meeting at Kololo in his own capacity and certainly not on behalf of UMA. And thus his (mis)behaviour was not emblematic of how UMA behaves or how things should go down, pun unintended.

Be that as it may, Oledo falling to his knees like he was about to serenade the smiling dictator Museveni should not be seen for what it is but what it represents. It is a metaphor for a health system which is on its knees.

Uganda’s health system, or lack thereof, suffers from the many systemic challenges which ail it.

As over 2 billion Uganda shillings is frittered away on State House per day, the health sector is perennially underfunded.

Its funding, if we can call such a pittance that, falls far short of the budget allocation recommended by the Abuja Declaration, whereby the African Union (AU) member states pledged to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets each year to improving their healthcare systems.

Uganda is a signatory to the Abuja Declaration.

However, the alloactions orbit about 7-8% of the national budget.

This travesty is reflective of widespread corruption, underpaid health workers, a shortage of health workers, inadequate supplies of medicines and essential equipment in government facilities, insufficient hospital beds, high costs of treatment, and poor accessibility to health services, particularly in rural areas.

In a recent survey, the Afrobarometer, a pan-African, independent, non-partisan research network that measures public attitudes on economic, political, and social matters in Africa, revealed that 74% of Ugandans say they went without the necessary medicine or medical care at least once during the 12 months preceding the survey.

Now, with that in mind, the health care system is on its knees and Dr. Oledo merely amplified this reality by getting on his own knees.

UMA, which is made up of over 7000 medical doctors in Uganda and abroad, should not be condemning him, but instead reserving its ire for the political system which reduces Ugandans to being beggars in their own land.

The leader of People’s Front for Transition (PFT) Dr Kizza Besigye’s plea that UMA get rid of Dr Oledo for “disgracing” the medical profession is thus misplace. And will serve as mere cosmetic surgery when the health system must undergo reconstructive surgery, now.

This means getting rid of the Museveni junta so that the country may rise to above where it continually falls by having Gen. Museveni and his brigands in charge.

Doctors, stop missing the forest for the trees and stop condemning Oledo for Gen. Museveni’s actions.

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