By Goodluck Musinguzi
Around 20th April 2021, hundreds of caretakers of the sick were seen fetching water outside Mulago National Referral Hospital. Surgeons in the Directorate of Surgeries reported delayed surgeries at Lower Mulago hospital because sterilization machines wouldn’t get water to sterilize linen. There wouldn’t be water in the taps and toilets.
Surgeons were forced to return to Old Mulago Hospital to do the pending surgeries to avert some death. This meant they had gone back to the renovation out-put which created thousands of patients waiting for elective surgeries.
The situation worsened as patients left Mulago National Referral Hospital for not being attended to. With nothing to eat in New Lower Mulago, it was compared to a new car that doesn’t benefit the mechanic. Old Mulago on the other hand is that car that feeds its mechanic because there will be a reason to check it, to re-paint, to replace parts, etc.
In a WhatsApp Communication, Dr. Byarugaba Baterana, the Executive Director of Mulago National Hospital told doctors, “Dear Colleagues, the issue of water in Mulago Hospital and around Mulago hill is a national issue. National Water and Sewerage Corporation is upgrading its water network. I appeal to you to remain come(sp) as national water does its work. The hospital has NOT been cut off”.
One Doctor (Name withheld) replied Dr. Byarugaba, “The upgrade is indeed better. Let us be calm as suggested by the ED. Let NWSC also act maturely, why would they sleep comfortably having left thousands of patients and cnefusco workers stinking in shit? A sane and caring water officer would have made contingency for a national if not international hospital that Mulago is?
Another Doctor said “there is a wasted water tank in front of Stanfield ward it has been there for 10 years, can it be connected to the buildings around? It can keep some water in such situations. We really miss the free water from God during the rainy season”.
Out of anger one of the Doctors attached to the Directorate of Surgeries made inquiries with National Water and Sewerage Corporation as the condition of patients was worsening, NWSC replied there was no reason for Mulago Hospital not to receive water and if such an issue was ongoing, it was a problem of the system on the mulago hill.
Unhappy Surgeons asked, “how much it would cost to fill up Mulago hospital tanks using water tanks. If a home can afford to buy water for its reservoir tank in times when NWSC is not pumping, why would Mulago hospital fail to fill up these tanks so that work on suffering patients continue?
This single event was reported to the highest office leading to an investigation that has exposed a lot in the history of this hospital.
What disturbed investigators was the construction of a new Orthopedic theatre at old Mulago hospital where there were no tendering documents to show the process was transparent though it was not necessary in the first place.
A relative (not named) linked to one powerful official started ferrying building materials for a new Orthopedic theatre and Orthopedic Trauma Surgery ward yet Government spent billions constructing the same facilities at Lower (New) Mulago hospital by ROKO construction company.
A source told investigators that the lack of water at Lower Mulago hospital is sabotage by someone who doesn’t want the new hospital to function. Nurses working in Lower Mulago complained they had nowhere to go for short and long calls in three days. They were threatening not to return to work because it’s hard to work in a place where there is no flowing water.
Around March 2021, the co-joined twins from Soroti Regional Referral Hospital exposed the uncaring tendencies at Mulago National Referral Hospital.
The Investigators found that Paediatric Surgeons at Mulago Hospital saw the patient as one other twin was dead, looked at what was needed, and simply walked away.
“But you know most of the work is done with the initiative and mobilization of resources by surgeons on their own. The most painful time for a doctor is when he or she knows they may not save the patient and have to look on”, Surgeons wrote in a memo.
Our lower Mulago Hospital theatre has been dysfunctional for nearly a month because of lack of water.
“The team thought the baby wouldn’t make it because the other twin had died days earlier. Actually they stayed on the ward for 2 days and requested to go back to Soroti before the second baby dies”.
There was uproar in the country, leaders were angry with Mulago National Referral Hospital. It was clearly negligence and the underlying reason was it was difficult to put a team together. There was no leadership, workers were absent and in private hospitals, logistical challenges were blamed on management.
Therefore, patients were being condemned to die because no one wants to carry the entire hospital burdens upon their shoulders when management is not doing enough. Workers told investigators they had suffered enough as they lack support of the administration.
Allegations saying it was common for a doctor to get exhausted, confused and leading to abandonment of patients on the ward for them to die was becoming common.
The Director, State House Health Monitoring Unit, Dr Warren Namara said “One year ago, we tried to look at how Mulago National Hospital delivers services to the public. In the cause of our work, we have preliminary findings. That’s why we needed the Executive Director to help us understand.
“Mulago Hospital misappropriated shs28 billion in the last 4 years, hence the arrest of the Hospital’s ED Dr Byarugaba Baterana who doubles as the Accounting Officer under Vote 161.