The experience of a father, who had a sick child admitted at the Mulago National Referral Hospital, last week, is heart-rending. His young child had had a sudden attack of pneumonia that had taken them, parents, by complete surprise, making him to seek medical attention for the child. Mulago, for him, was the obvious choice.
He was to regret it; but it was also a huge learning experience. On arrival at the hospital, the child was immediately admitted at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) because of the seriousness of the condition. He found three other children in the ICU in various stages of urgent need for medical attention.
The middle-aged nurse in attendance at the ICU was listening to Gospel music on her phone and nodding her head in apparent spiritual approval. But that was all the attention (or, is it inattention) she gave to the children in the ICU, who would have benefitted from medical attention. When a colleague nurse approached and inquired on the situation, she just nodded her head at the direction of the three children, commenting: “Those three are going to die.” Meanwhile, she gave them absolutely no attention, where the children needed the administration of oxygen.
A doctor came by and prescribed further types of medicines for the children, but the nurses merely laughed and said that there was no medicine to give to the children. And the nurse said if the children’s attendants would give her money, she could procure it for them.
The nurse only continued listening to her Gospel music. Needless to say, the father of the sick child learnt that, that week alone, about ten children had died at the ICU because of the lack of basic care!
When the doctor examined his child and prescribed the treatment, he (the doctor) advised him to seek medical attention for his child at the Case Medical Hospital on Buganda Road if he was to get good medical attention for his child. Case Clinic is very expensive; and his child was admitted at over 600,000/= per day. But he had to do it, because the alternative at Mulago Hospital was certain death!
The logic this father advanced: Do not take your patient to Mulago, if you are poor! So, where do the poor go to seek medical attention, if the referral hospital that was built to alleviate their suffering cannot help? The basic care that is within the grasp of the nursing staff is not offered to the needy patients. The level of moral disdain and lack of human feeling for the suffering shown by the nurses is not commensurate with their training.
So, what has gone wrong? There is no longer any empathy for those suffering, by the people who are supposed and being paid to care of them.
Is there anymore need for re-training of these staff? Is it training for the young and upcoming nurses on the principles of nursing etiquette and humanity for the suffering?
How long will this country continue to haemorrhage?