Mbarara hospital boss urges govt to support emergency medicine

MBARARA– The Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital [MRRH]director, Dr. Celestine Barigye has appealed to the government to support emergency medicine to decongest regional referral hospitals.

Emergency Medicine [EM] is a medical specialty that equips doctors with the knowledge and skills required to care for people with life-threatening or urgent healthcare needs. This branch of medicine essentially started in the United States of America [USA] in the 1960s.

In Uganda, EM started in 2017 based on the need by the Ministry of Health for trained Emergency physicians as part of an effort to improve emergency care and overall quality of health provision. It is also a key player in coordinating and initiating treatment.

According to prof Celestine Obua, Vice-chancellor of Mbarara University of Science and Technology [MUST], the institution helped six doctors to undergo a three-year Programme for medical specialists at MRRH while a two-year diploma programme was started at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital for nine nurses and clinical officers to become Emergency Care Practitioners training.

Obua said the new programme has been supported by Seed Global Health, formerly known as Global Health Service Corps, which is a non-profit organization that started in 2011 to provide nursing and medical training support in resource-limited countries.

However, he says such specialised programs are currently affected by government ban on the recruitment of new staff in public institutions.

“For the last 10 years, the government has not allowed the recruitment of staff in public universities, a glowing challenge of lack of experienced lecturers/experts for specific science courses like emergency medicine.”

He said they very much need such qualified science experts, but that their hands are tied as they don’t have funds and enough related human resources to support the training.

During the three year review of the partnership between Seed Global Health, MRRH, and MUST, Dr. Barigye thanked the emergency medicine pioneer doctors for playing a pivotal role in decongesting the emergency wing at the hospital piled with traffic accidents.

“Being pioneers of emergency medicine, the specialised medical doctors handle patients quickly so in the triage system we don’t get congestion, stairs and complaints in the emergency ward unless when there is a bus accident and maybe we have so many causalities.”

He urged the government to introduce a mass transport system to reduce the number of boda bodas in the cities which results in many accidents.

“Boda bodas have also become so many mainly in cities like in Kampala and Mbarara where they don’t respect road signs or pedestrians crossing anyhow time and causing mayhem to the people who are moving. I think it is high time for the government to think about mass transport like having volumes of trains like those in Kenya rather than bodabodas over speeding in the cities,” says Barigye

He also advocated for basic care health financing to reduce the government burden and expenditure on supporting health centres with the meager resources the country relies on.

“It means that when you come to the hospital you are guaranteed treatment not in Uganda where health care financing is entirely being provided by the government which is expensive to handle including medical salaries, and structures. If we don’t sort our health care financing properly, as the population increases, people will be a burden to the country” Barigye advised

Dr Francis Oriokot, the deputy hospital director, said the emergency medicine department’s commitment will elevate MRRH to a centre of excellence.

“I don’t know how many other universities are training in emergency medicine, but to me, this department will establish this hospital to the status of excellency. You invested your time meaningfully and I would be the most disappointed person to see you retreating.”

“This is one of the best things which have happened during this century after sliced bread was discovered and I believe emergency medicine is going to be one of the saviors of this country and one of the strongest pillars for emergency care in Uganda,” he explained.

Dr Prisca Kizito, Head of Emergency Department at MRRH dreams about seeing the specialized department under one roof for quick health service care in the region.

“We hope to develop a transition plan for having the emergency department under one roof and under the management of emergency medicine which is one of the areas that will make our work easier in terms of achieving ideal emergency care and emergency medical training. Also, this is the only way a student will appreciate that I deal in emergency care instead of splitting patients into medical or surgical,” Dr. Kizito said

According to Allan Nsubuga the Senior Programs and MEL manager Seed Global Health Uganda, the five-year partnership has so far yielded successful stories in line with the emergency provision and healthcare professionals’ training.

“For the last three years, we have registered successes in mentoring and training emergency health care professionals. Some of them are now tutors in the Emergency Medicine department at MUST and serve in the Emergency Department at MRRH.”

The meeting involved sharing of ideas aimed at developing an annual work plan for year four years [2023-2024]. The groups had experts from the Seed Global Health headquarters in Boston-Massachusetts, USA.

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