Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Crime Behind the Lira Medical Workers’ Industrial Action

Albert Einstein, a popular Philosopher Scientist, once said; “only a lived life for others is worth living.”

I am coming back to post here ahead of schedule because of something tragic that happened in the Northern part of Uganda!! It attracted little or no media attention compared to the Land Bill, and the cheap political squabbles.

Apparently, 15 patients died in a Lira hospital as a result of a medical workers’ industrial action over unpaid allowances. Why 15 people had to die, under the perceived care of medical workers, is beyond my feeble understanding!

We join the health care field because most of us hold this deep and personal connection to caring for others. Health care professionals are an embodiment of not only the core values of “caring” but of patient advocacy, collaboration, and accountability.

It is true that there have been numerous medical workers’ strike actions before. The difference is that most of these strikes were carried out in a proficient manner that did not compromise the quality of life and indeed the interests of the patients.

If these heath care professionals had no option but to strike they should have been entirely certain that delegated care was not only professional and competent, but also adequately set in order to uphold the concept of continuous care. And why their union activism did not express their dissatisfaction through advocacy prior to this industrial action, bothers me!

In whatever way you prefer to look at this tragedy, the fact remains that reducing patients into objects of negotiation is a violation of patient rights. In this regard, Lira hospital medical workers appear to have neglected their professed duty of care resulting into deaths and therefore, should face criminal charges (willful criminal negligence, second degree murder et al.) as a result.

By this action, the Lira hospital doctors that participated, whilst neglecting to provide continuity through alternative care, violated the first dictum of medicine: primum, non nocere (translated as: “First, do no harm") and the Hippocratic Oath. What a shame!!

My endless whining about the grotesqueness of the unprofessional behavior of these few bad apples does not negate my belief in industrial action as an effective bargaining tool in the labor market, so long as the actual needs (human life protection and preservation) are respected and put ahead of potential future benefits.

Meanwhile, I pray that somebody is held accountable for these crimes committed at the Lira Regional Referral Hospital.


Blogger joshi said...

Masenge, sadly professions which tend to be the pillars of society are not well protected..pillars like nurses in the medical field..people tend to do nursing coz they have failed to achieve in other areas, so you find people who arent interested in helpin people but those who want to earn some kind of living! Sadly the same thing goes for the Police, people join coz it is a way out..and sadly these professions are the least respected, most looked down upon and underpaid..it still doesnt make sense to have MPs who do almost nothing earn 5 million!!

Ps..it certainly has been a long, long time!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 4:08:00 a.m.  
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Blogger Jane said...


I have attempted accessing ur blog, on several occassions, in vain!!

I agree with ur opinion. However, medical workers whether nurses, doctors, cardio techs et al. should always be consistently held accountable for their willful departure from the "First, do no harm" dictum.

Monday, February 25, 2008 12:32:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Umwiza said...

A strike cannot be separated from its outcome for patients.

Can one get broad social support for the strike in the short term and the profession in the long term without regard to patients' suffering?

Can a strategy which ignores, even celebrates, such suffering be a correct one?

Should health workers' trade unions blindly copy traditional trade union methods or should they look for equally effective methods consistent with their role as care-givers? (A. Jesan, 1998)

Resounding observations, if you asked me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008 3:39:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Omar said...

How relieving it's to have you posting again!

Incidentally: I once in 1966 was admitted for 4 days in Lira hospital. Incredibly - it was much more efficient, much cleaner, had much better service than it has now! And the pharmacy was well stocked with medicine; all the service was completely free, then.

Of all the urban areas that I have lived in or been to - Lira is still and will always be my most favored. I still have many relatives living there. It's very sad about the dead patients; I didn't know about it till your post.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 8:55:00 a.m.  
Blogger Jane said...

Thanx Omar! I have been down with a "superbug" that is reportedly causing a new strain here in Ontario. It's a bug that medical/healthcare staff are exposed to, in hospitals and nursing homes, on a daily basis.

I appreciate that healthcare professionals work tirelessly to promote health even at their detriment. However, for the Lira workers to dangle the trust and power endowed onto them for a value and future benefits, to the extent of losing 15 patients under their care, is pathetic!

If they can't carry out civilised negotiations with gov't, there is always a better option; QUIT!!

Friday, March 28, 2008 5:27:00 p.m.  
Blogger Zack (ألاسمحاجّ) said...

Such a shame about Lira! Like many, I didn't know that until I got here... quite obviously, you can see how much of a priority some things can be in a 'promising economy'.

On another note, are you gonna be a little more regular? We miss your posts!

Sunday, June 22, 2008 8:01:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Omar said...

I have changed the URL fo my blog 'Basawad's Safari Notes' from: http://omar-basawad.blogspot.com/ to http://safarinotes.blogspot.com/.

Note: now, somebody else has hijacked the previous URL and is using it in a very distasteful way. It's a very good lesson: never delete or change a blog URL, especially if it's personal.

Monday, July 28, 2008 7:02:00 a.m.  
Anonymous Romaine said...

Good post.

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