Medical interns at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital have laid down their tools over what they described as negligence of management for their lives. The interns are demanding protective gear like masks, sanitizers, and overalls among other things, which they say are essential in handling suspected coronavirus cases.
According to the interns, the hospital management hasn’t taken any initiative to provide them with the necessary gears yet they are at the frontline of interfacing with patients, which exposes them to the coronavirus infection. Dr. Romeo Aupale Okidi, the Vice President Uganda Federation of Medical Interns told our reporter that medical interns are working under very deplorable conditions that endanger their lives.
He says they resolved to have a sit-down strike starting Monday until the hospital provides them with the necessary equipment that can protect them from contracting the disease. “The hospital is inadequately equipped to manage any outbreak of corona. We decided to stay at home to ensure the hospital puts in places protection measures of our lives” he said.
According to him, emergency wards like the causality, Outpatient Department and medical emergency ward are not suitable for their work yet they are very crowded, which makes it hard to handle any case of an emergency like the COVID19 case.
URN toured Mbale Regional Referral Hospital on Monday and observed that there was no intern doctor; nurse or midwife was on duty. The wards were mainly being run by the ministry of health staff who were overwhelmed by the huge numbers of patients. A source told URN on condition anonymity that since the interns stopped working on Monday morning, management closed the gates to reduce the numbers.
“They had to lock the gates. That is how people reduced otherwise we were not managing, we now have to work tirelessly since the students are not here,” he noted. The source also revealed that the medics at the hospital have not been trained on how to handle coronavirus cases.
Dr. Emmanuel Tugaineyo, the Director Mbale Regional Referral Hospital confirmed the medical intern’s strike, saying they are right to sit down because they are also scared for their lives.
He says the hospital has started decongesting wards in preparation for any coronavirus case. Dr. Tugainayo says they are trying to set up a corona isolation center by shifting outpatient special clinics to the main wards.
The Health Ministry has so far confirmed 9 corona cases in the country. However, only three are in quarantine, the remaining six that entered the country through Entebbe International Airport are still at large.