The Ministry of Health has called a press conference Wednesday morning, ostensibly for the State Minister of Health for General Duties, Hon. Sarah Achieng Opendi to report on deaths of Ugandans following brain surgeries performed by American doctors at Mengo hospital between October 23 and 29 2017, reports Stephen Muneza.
The press conference is scheduled for the Ministry Headquarters in Wandegeya beginning at 09:30 says MoH, through its spokesperson Vivian Sserwanja.
She said: “The Hon. Minister of Health will deliver a press statement on the Investigations into the death of patients following a neurosurgical camp in October 2017 at Mengo Hospital.”
Last December, Dr Diana Atwine, the Health ministry permanent secretary, said the responsibility to investigate the case rested directly with the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, which is expected to submit a report to the ministry after investigations.
Minister Opendi while on a TV talk show was asked about the neurosurgical camp at Mengo hospital and five patients who died.
A day after the talk show, the minister met Mengo hospital management who reportedly informed her that the camp was carried out by neurosurgical surgeons from Duke University, USA.
Some family members of the dead have raised fears that among the visiting surgeons were junior doctors not competent to carry out such complex procedures.
Without a doubt, Hon. Opendi’s Wednesday is going to have important annoucements after a public spat over death of patients operated during the neurosurgical camp, including former Kyadondo South MP Issa Kikungwe.
Neurosurgery is a surgical operation that involves any part of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve and the cerebrovascular system usually referred to as brain surgery.
Unfortunate or reckless?
Meant to benefit low income earners who could not afford the costly procedure that requires between Shs5m and Shs15m under private arrangements in the country, the camp, was organised by Mengo Hospital in collaboration with the US-based Duke University and the Neurosurgical Society of Uganda (NSU).
The team of eight neurosurgeons with four of them said to be Ugandans, was led by Prof Michael Haglavend of Duke Global Health Institute.
Some sources have alleged that the hospital could have used foreign quack doctors and interns to manage the complex procedures. But Mengo Hospital administration has since refuted the allegations, saying the team has been operating similar medical camps in Uganda for the last 10 years at Mulago National Referral Hospital and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital.
They described the allegations as “mudslinging” the 120-year-old Anglican Church-founded hospital.
Under public pressure, the director of medical services at Mengo, Dr Rose Mutumba, finally agreed to speak to
the media last week, saying 33 patients underwent surgery, 28 successfully, while five died. She said this was “normal”.
It is expected that the UMDPC inquiry that Hon. Opendi will share at the press conference will reveal the exact number of fatalities.