I was reading a horrible story in the INVESTIGATOR about the torture of Geoffrey Byamukama, the Kamwenge Town Council Mayor, and how his bill at Nakasero hospital has skyrockted to shs.29m. Under normal circumstances, one would immediately be thinking about his horrible wounds and what caused them(possibly torture by the police), but my mind just skipped to the cost of healthcare in Uganda. Subhanallah, what happens to the poor who fall sick in that country? Has anybody thought about this?

Both doctors and politicians are just greedy. Doctors have opened up their private expensive clinics/ hospitals and can only touch you if you pay. Politicians go abroad for treatment, so who really cares about my friends in Kangulumira whose only health centre in the region is technically a death trap. We could only manage to raise money for the blankets tthrough UAH but failed to raise even a mere shs.8m to repaint the centre. Those who made pledges never came through, and I guess because they aren’t good christians/Muslims.

Greed is a powerful force that affects us all. It needs to be harnessed in a way to make a country strong and with a large middle class.A quality doctor-patient relationship matters. It’s an essential part of the healing process, and one that can’t be had without the physician’s role in initiating and maintaining it. My late grandfather’s doctor and relative,Dr. Adam Kimala, should be in his 70’s now and is not a financial firebrand.He is a good man and commands personal loyalty seemingly effortlessly. He enjoys his work, never put money first, and, I believe, he intends to continue until “they” won’t let him work any more at which point he will probably spend most of his time doing consultation and voluntary work for Buganda kingdom. I remember when I was a kid, he used to have a clinic somewhere in Kampala city, and I could be taken there for a ‘ruthless’ injection in case of a malaria infection. Bless him!

In science, it is generally accepted that Albert Einstein lived a moderate life, and he never used his brain power to take advantage of the poor.He still lived in a little house provided to him by the Institute for Advanced Study(IAS) till he died, and asked that it be kept as a residence for others after his demise. His request was honored. A really competent person doesn’t seek wealth, the work function is all the reward that’s necessary for them.Wealth is only important to those imbued with a poverty of spirit. Albert pre-promised his Nobel prize money to his ex-wife as part of his divorce settlement. That’s a guy who knew what value is.

But how many doctors are like Dr.Kimala or Einstein in our generation. Everyone is thinking about money, not really their profession.If a professional doesn’t have recognizable wealth, it certainly raises flags.Human greed corrupts every economic and social model there is, whether it’s economic, social, religious. I admire those people – sadly far too few – who can transcend that greed and show selfless generosity and kindness towards others.The practice of quality medicine includes assuring that a patient understands and may have confidence that his treatment is the path to better health. There is no substitute for good communication, but a lot of doctors in Uganda mainly communicate billing to patients.

Many Christians actually believe that if you are poor, it is God’s judgement against you for your sins. This makes it very convenient for them to throw the poor under the bus. Just picture this:

A man falls down in the street in Kampala and clutches his chest and is having a heart attack. He’s not dressed too well, and may be homeless.A few people that don’t believe in healthcare for those that don’t pay for it, stand around and take bets on when he’ll croak.The man dies and everyone goes home to a nice Matooke and meat dinner.

As it turns out, that man happened to be one of the onlooker’s father.Ah well. He never did deserve healthcare, never earned enough.Tough.

The question is whether we are deserving enough to be called a civilized nation or civilised people.If it were a matter of greed for money, it’s far cheaper to equip government hospitals and give everyone healthcare at a far lower cost, and stop the stranglehold of spending millions of dollars taking a few in government for treatment abroad. Every ‘important’ person who dies now, they do so in either Nairobi, India or South Africa, and its a shame. Nobody wishes to die from Mulago or Nsambya yet these were good hospitals in the 1960-70s.

Trying to maximize profits on the backs of patients is a very bad idea. Just look at the American model. An American who is jobless or working for minimum wage and gets cancer or some other serious disease will die for lack of health care.While I don’t like Michael Moore, Americans should watch the movie “Sicko” to get an idea of how things are in other countries.Cuba was the country. Moore took a bunch of sick people there as a stunt, and they were all taken care of with minimal cost. For instance, one woman that was going broke trying to pay for a medicine here that she needed ($150), went there and got her medicine for $.05 cents.

Looks like I got wordy again. I blame frustration and a propensity to reminisce. Sorry!


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Semuwemba Calendar

May 2017
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Semuwemba is a Ugandan residing in the UK

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"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. "~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~

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