I know you must be wondering, how I could use that word. Well, what word do you really think am using? Check the spelling again, I might be right, and the converse is true!
The pole used to hang the drip is rusty, the rollers cannot ever be re-used. 1 doctor walks by, gloved, even unto the face. Its a silent way of saying, the rest of us carry with us the filth of the earth.
A door way – is a prime spot, 3 beds in a row! A chalk board, has gibberish – to a guest – after all you would expect it to tell you which patient is where.
A mini briefing – doctor to care givers; Somali/Eritrean, it’s just a guess; happens on a table in the walk way. You have no way of telling if yo neighbor-in-standing is the next patient or one looking after one such.
At 4am, you have to search for a bed. You see this place is not just a clinic, it’s a hospital, a teaching hospital and also a National Referral Hospital. Scores of white-clad young-looking faces, raises your hopes of numbers. It’s hard to believe Uganda has one of the worst Doctor-to-patient ratio. I wonder, when you count over 20 doctors in training in just one ward, what really happens to these numbers?
At least am encouraged by the site of a muzungu doctor – doing what I see in medical drama House MD. – walking with trainees, thru the rounds, using the patients there to sharpen their brains, explore cases in detail and try a team-diagnosis on everything they see.
By contrast, Dr. John busied himself around a bed, one of the ones in what used (was constructed) to be a waiting area, alone. I immediately wonder, was the muzungu in class, or was it his style of doing ward rounds, and was Dr. John simply too wise to work with juniors, or perhaps too busy – fetching a plastoplast!
The entrance to the ward area has a couple of rooms, including a ‘Doctors Only’ – and you guessed right: it has a private patient bed – occupied! The ‘Nurses Only’ did have a few high-pitched laughter, I guessed it was their break – time check? 1143am.
I got a call from my wife, her concern was simple: please wash your hands when you leave the hospital. I asked why, she said she had never walked into a place, and though physically in her prime, felt so sick, felt a spirit of sickness hanging over the place. I reminded her of 2 things: This was a hospital in Uganda!
Of course I didn’t want to start this article the way I started the day. You see I have not gone to work past few days, myself a victim of the aura of sickness. I must say am privileged to receive private medical care, insured. My experience is altogether different, perhaps to some people in this ward, heavenly.
I show up at the reception, present a card, get a chair to sit on while my history is presented to one of 3 doctors on duty, see the doctor in a private room, we chat as though we were bosom buddies. I feel so confident, even in my sickly state. He inquires about my ailments, digs deeper, till I correspond with ever-increasing ‘No’. I can tell he has eliminated chances of Malaria, TB, Injury and minor infections.
Still, he will request me to do a number of lab tests, not to mention that I already took my height and weight a few million times by now. He happily answers, he prefers to have the latest physical me right in-front of him to diagnose. He okay’s my weight, my coughing, my breathing, and receives re-assuring echoes from 3 parts of my chest and 3 parts of my back.
He has outdone himself, but he says it’s just his job. The Lab and pharmacy are equally exquisite in execution, details of my medication and what it will do to me, all the side effects I can expect, and I walk out feeling a little like a sick king.
2 members of the same family – a world if a difference. One is elderly and prone, one young and raring. Ceteris paribus, they both don’t get what they deserve! Granted, they both should get to feel more like a sick king.
The private medical system cradles the phrase ‘immediate family, up-to 4 biological children’ and the public medical systems retorts ‘you are not the first case we have seen, and neither will you be the last’.
In a country where family is by default extended, private medical care has failed to curve out a niche to secure these numbers, instead they rely on biological children. My brother will never be, neither will my mom – yet, if you know how much money I have spent on them already, you would cringe at the loss of business.
The public system will never get better, after-all, if bonna bagaggawale is the theme for the future, gloves will continue to be sold, beds to be traded, and better practitioners continue to be bidded for. No wonder, in the same hospital, a private wing looks and works smarter, and yet the public wing remains full of f***king systems and procedures.
Someone said something like this: In a country whose leaders are wealthy, poverty is something to be ashamed of, In a country whose leaders are righteous and just, corruption is something to be ashamed of.
If my leaders don’t use the public health system, do they know something I don’t?