Op-ed: Health professionals don’t carry out presidential directives

President Museveni Health Minister Dr Aceng Ruth and PS Dr Diana Atwine. A photo collage of PMDaily


Health Perspective WITH James William Mugeni

Uganda – 18, June 2020: Editor, the second lockdown talked about should not be done minus audit lessons from the first lockdown. Strong lessons which must include a change of strategies and players must be considered.

Those colleagues who are running the docket of the Ministry of Health particularly Honourable Dr Ruth Aceng and Honourable Dr Diana Atwine are into bad repute by the public. It is strongly coming out in the public that their cohorts have only enriched themselves and are advocating for the second lockdown to complete their projects.

The reasons as advanced that people are not adhering to directives to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease need people who will impress values on people. The first lockdown raises more questions than answers.

And anyone advocating for the second phase of lockdown should provide answers to the many questions the public has about the first lockdown. Is it true people are not adhering to instructions for the prevention of Covid-19 and if so why? What do we think should be done as a country, not individuals in the second lockdown?

Who will be the spokesperson for the second lockdown other than everyone? Should the ones with tinted images like Enanga, Onyango, Nabakooba, Ogwang continue speaking for such important issues? People who were put to task to explain unjustified expenditures cannot give instructions on the lockdown.

What scientific information does Judith Nabakooba have to issue statements, what about Onyango and Enanga both police spokes persons known for pathological lies? Have we taken care of what happened during the first lockdown like police brutality, failed food distribution, failed access to health care for emergencies? Have they been taken care of? Is what is happening now a gap of what was not done in the first lockdown?

What about the quacks in Entebbe who are asking for a handshake from President Museveni? How are they taken care of? Doctors or health professionals are supposed to work for professional pay and if anything at this time are having professional risk allowance based on risk assessment. Asking for a handshake tells you how unprofessional the first deployment was. The fight against Covid-19 will be self-defeating when we continue with the scandals the key players have manifested.

The appointments to the Ministry of Health of Doctors Atwine Diana and Ruth Aceng as political appointees are not meant to win health workers as voters but to ensure that we work with them to improve service delivery in Uganda as professionals. During the Covid-19 period, we have been dragged into partisan working conditions than the all-encompassing service delivery we are supposed to offer.

As health professionals, we are supposed to be without blemish. We heal the sick; we provide comfort; we give hope; we help keep families well; we feed the hungry; we create safe spaces; we keep things clean, we volunteer, we answer questions; we offer solutions; we make people laugh; we treat infections; we treat cancers and everything in between.

We reassure the uncertain; we revolutionize medicine; we are experts in our craft, and we treat people like a family and work as a family. If you wanted to talk of anything refined, if you wanted to talk of anything pure, then it is the health profession that should be above reproach. We are losing this because of our indulgence in biases and not implanting objectively supportive public policies.

At the time of writing this piece, health workers are not at peace with the medical profession following what is seen happening in Uganda. Dr Aceng Ruth and Dr Diana Atwine we do not respond to presidential directives but as health professionals we subscribe to guiding principles of our profession.

You are tearing the medical profession by forcing us into directives that have paralyzed the profession. Medicine is a 24/7 around the clock occupation.

Whereas you as ministers work with rules provided with your central office, you seem not to know you were a discipline that had to deal with ethical issues, much of which contradicts with your current deployment.

Telling lies in medicine means killing patients, telling lies in politics means winning votes. We have an attack on the medical profession and saw in Mbarara incident where Dr Namata Tamara was abused. I have seen even the RDC Mbarara Lt. Col. James Mwesigye and his team chest thumping. This is going overboard. It is unfortunate that we have reached this level of medical practice.

There is no way medical people get permission to move from the military during the lockdown. Medical people move because people are sick and in need. Sad to see a story of a terrified medical doctor from Mbarara besides the decrees being given by security operatives.

Covid -19 is not going to be won using gun men, it will be won by people who have a calling not to put on military uniform but people who put on scrubs, gowns, and carry stethoscopes. Stop meddling with the medical profession.

We in the health profession transcend political, social, ethnic, racial, regional, economic, and international borders. We are supposed to use our professional discretion to see that “public intent,” is fulfilled, not “individual intent.”

Calling for the second lockdown if initiated by us health professionals must be implemented by us health professionals and only seek support of the populations and all the armies that should be part of the public. Everyone looks upon us the health workers in this Covid-19 period and it should remain like that.

The author is a Medical Clinical Officer/Certified Public Manager

Email:  wmungadi@gmail.com

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