Government has been called upon to ensure that all health workers are protected from the risk of contracting COVID19 if the population is to continue accessing uncompromised health service delivery.
Ibrahim Nsereko the programs manager Strategic Litigation at Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) says that the government ought to give quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all health workers regardless of whether they are at the frontline (of fighting COVID19) or not.
Mourning a senior gynecologist Dr. Charles Kiggundu, Nsereko said that the government has for long neglected protection of health workers against COVID19 yet they are the caregivers to the rest of Ugandans.
Nsereko notes that few health workers mainly those in the fight against COVID19 frontline are protected but that the majority who are involved in treating and managing other health cases are left to survive on their own.
“We will continue losing senior medics like Dr. Kiggundu because as a government we failed to act, the health workers are not given personal protective Equipment.
Instead of concentrating only on health-workers handling COVID19, government should wake up and equally protect all health workers in maternity wards, laboratories, those managing malaria and HIV/AIDS since they give health care to all Ugandans,” Nsereko said.
He adds that if they are not protected, the country is at risk of losing more health workers to covid19 and more Ugandans who may also die from other illnesses.
Nsereko further noted the late Dr. Kiggundu who has been a board member of CEHURD has been so vocal on the matter of availing quality Personal protective equipment to protect the health worker’s body from injury or infection.
He mentioned that by now the government interventions should be beyond COVID19 to a point of considering how to manage other diseases amid a pandemic.
For instance, availability of Personal protective equipment should not be a privilege to only health workers in the public facilities but also those in the private hospitals like the non-profit making facilities.
Citing Complaints of health workers from Entebbe Hospital, Nsereko adds as the country fights the pandemic, we should not be getting reports of delayed payment of health workers especially at the frontline.
According to Nsereko, the death of Dr.Kiggundu is a big blow to the women of Uganda, the civil society and the entire country. The Late Dr. Kiggundu has been an advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights and he will be remembered for his consistent call for better maternal health services in the country.
When asked how she received the sad news, Agnes Kirabo, the Executive Director of Food Rights Alliance, said besides being shocked she went into denial and she had to do a lot of background check before she confirmed the unfortunate news.
Agnes Kirabo who is also an activist that has worked with Dr. Kiggundu credits the late gyenaecologist for having come from the science field (Medicine) to team up with people in the civil society organization majority of whom are from an arts background, to advocate for reproductive health.
There is always a gap between scientists and those from the Arts field but Dr. Kiggundu joined the civil society to close the gap to find a solution to maternal deaths in this country.
According to Kirabo who served with the late Kiggundu on the board of CEHURD, his one belief was “No woman should die while giving life. This was his philosophy; this was his drive and belief.
Kirabo further told our reporter that on the December 23. Dr. Kiggundu sent a message to their whatsapp group saying that “Be hardened to do more for there hard times”. Little did he know he himself had just Seven days after, he would be dead.
“We have the pain of a champion, the pain of a devoted gynecologist who worked so hard to save women giving birth and the life of the newborn.
“It is unfortunate that Dr. Kiggundu died because there was no space at the Mulago Hospital ICU for his admission. If a senior consultant can die in the corridors of Mulago Hospital what about an ordinary Ugandan,” Kirabo asked.
It is said that Dr. Kiggundu collapsed while on duty. So how many mothers are going to die because of the death of Dr. Kiggundu, Kirabo wonders.
She continues to ask who supports such health workers in this pandemic, already we are losing many senior doctors, Dr.Kiggundu died on the same day Dr. Kigozi died, all senior doctors.
We need a deliberately established service center for health workers where they can be examined on a regular basis and thereafter treated.
Kirabo appealed to the cabinet headed by President Museveni who is also the head of this fight against covid19 to consider setting aside a service centre where health workers would go for examination, maybe every two weeks for examination and given special treatment.
Justifying her proposal, Kirabo said that we as a country we need these doctors who are so exposed to help in management of other illnesses which are equally killing Ugandans.