I realized that much of my blog has been reporting with little reflecting. Allow me to do some reflection on events of last week. I called a consultant doctor/professor directly and asked how to make an appointment to see him. He told me to come to his clinic at 2 p.m. This was unexpected and as it turned out, unwise, as I had a physical therapy appointment at 5 p.m. Arriving at 1:30 p.m. thinking there might be paperwork to fill out, I discovered that I was # 10! And, the doctor had not yet arrived. So I waited … and waited … and waited. The doctor finally came about 3 and began seeing patients. I saw him at 5:30 and he sent me for lab and a consultation with the dietitian. I left there at 6:30 and rushed for my 5 p.m. appointment. The therapist graciously took me as his last patient at 8 p.m. I returned home at 9:30. Friday a repeat of the same although this time someone had saved #3 for me. However the doctor came 3 1/2 hours late. I saw him briefly then returned home to rest before going to my 5 p.m. physical therapy “appointment.” Appointment is in quotes as when I arrived there were 5 people waiting ahead of me. In a conversation with a young woman who accompanied her mother, I learned that they had a 4 p.m. appointment. They saw the therapist just before me. Again I was the last patient and left there about 9:30 p.m.
While from the western perspective, these were extremely frustrating experiences, I started thinking about how this is the normal way for Ugandans to get health care. They show up early and wait in long lines only to find that the doctor has gone home at the end of the day. Many have to travel long distances to find a doctor to care for their particular health issue. And at times, they find no doctor available. In Uganda the doctor/patient ratio is 1 doctor for 24,000 people. Kampala is much better than Fort Portal and Karugutu. I am fortunate that I can go to private clinics. It’s even worse for patients who have little money and need to go to the government hospitals. Government pay (about $350/month) for medical doctors is very low compared to what they can make in private clinics or in other countries. A number of Ugandan doctors are serving outside the country.
Getting the appropriate medication is also a challenge. Many people are diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes, but cannot afford to purchase the medicines. When someone dies, it is very normal to be told that they died of pressure and diabetes.
Pray for the people of Uganda – that God would make a way where there seems to be no way to get proper and timely medical care.
Blessings on your day.