A planned demonstration by the Uganda Consumer Protection Awareness Association demanding for the right to access basic health services at Mulago referral hospital was on Wednesday morning blocked by police.
.By 8:00am police had deployed seven police patrol vehicles with anti riot police and plain clothed personal at the Mulago Hospital main gate, the intended venue for the demonstration.
On March 29th, Mulwani Taminwa, the chairperson of the Uganda Consumer Protection Awareness Association wrote to the Inspector General of Police, Major General Kale Kayihura notifying him about the intended demonstration. Taminwa said the demonstrators are demanding for the provision of proper health services to Ugandans at government referral hospitals.
A copy of the letter seen by Uganda Radio Network also includes changing the name of Mulago Hospital to Mujje Tufiirewamu, two Luganda words literally meaning “Come and we all die.”
The letter also notes that there is lack of morals among health workers in government health facilities besides lack of medicines, resulting into unnecessary deaths.
But Sam Omalla, the operations officer Kampala Metropolitan North says that the police had to rush to Mulago to protect patients from acts of hooliganism.
According to Omalla, the demands of the consumers’ protection association should not disrupt the peace of the patients.
By 9:00am, Godfrey Achiria, the DPC Wandegeya had instructed the screening of visitors to the hospital, blocking boda-boda operations near the main gate, and searching all vehicles accessing the hospital. None of the organizers had accessed the venue by 10:00am.
Mulwani Taminwa, speaking to journalists in his hideout in Katanga said police had been hunting for the organisers of the demonstration for close to 36 hours.
He claims the big sign post they had planned to plant at the main gate with the name “Mujje Tufiirewam” has been confiscated. He claimed three people including Muhammad Ssegirinya the former parliamentary contestant for Kawempe North, Jimmy Kato, a resident of Katanga and Muzamir Katumba, a resident of Kawempe, were being detained at Kawempe Police station.
Siraje Bakareke, the DPC Kawempe police station admits the three are being detained there and face charges of inciting violence.
But Taminwa insists the conditions in the Mulago causality department, labour wards, female wards and the operating theaters are in appalling state, which contributes to what he termed as senseless deaths.
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He added that the demonstration shall be rolled out throughout the country to call for change in the way government referral hospitals are being managed with only panadol as the only medicine for all ailments.
Sam Kayemba, a resident of Mulago Two parish alleges that a number of medical officers in government health facilities take bribes before treating patients, which affects the patients with limited resources.
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When Uganda Radio Network contacted Dan Kimosho, the Mulago hospital spokesperson, he dismissed the allegations as baseless.