Women leaders and activists protest over Mulago referral hospital water crisis

“Government that is in charge of the budget process every year must have known that Mulago was not paying its water bills and couldn’t wait for this to happen. This kind of playing with people’s health is playing with women’s lives. As a matter of fact, this is trampling with our dignity and it is totally unacceptable” said Miria Matembe a renowned women rights activist.

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 No one could have imagined that in this day and age that water services could be disconnected from a major referral hospital of any country. But this is what happened recently when the National Water and Sewerage Corporation went and disconnected water supply to some parts of Mulago hospital over unpaid bills amounting to more than Shs6b. It is said that the bill in question had accumulated over years which the hospital managers said cannot be accounted for since there are no supporting documents to that effect. This resultantly led to a water crisis in the government main referral hospital and Mwana Migimu pediatric section was the most hit by the crisis that caused diarrhea infections among children leaving many of them dead and their mothers in twinge.

In light of the above, Women leaders and activists carrying empty jerrycans have today held a peaceful protest at the hospital premises over what they called poor health services affecting their dignity as women and demanded for answers from government why it has failed to pay for water utility bills at the Mulago Referral hospital and further asked why government has failed to improve the public health sector.
Whist the 5th Millennium Development Goal aims at improving maternal health by reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health; it’s shocking to note that the world and Uganda in particular is hardly any closer to reaching MDG 5 today than it was at the start of this process. With its fertility rate of 6.1 children for every woman in reproductive age, Uganda looses about 16 women daily due to pregnancy related complications which are purely preventable ranging from severe bleeding, high blood pressure, unsafe abortions and obstructed labor. Due to poverty, majority of Ugandans especially those in rural areas cannot access public health facilities, and most women fall in this and the state of health services offered in general is also wanting. Image
The women protests came at a time when there are media reports of how health workers at all levels and in different districts are striking over non-payment of salaries for months and poor working conditions that make it difficult for them to discharge their duties.
At the height of all this, is that Uganda has so far lost UGX 4,163,500,000,000 trillion to public theft with impunity since the year 2000. These funds could go a long way in transforming the health sector by addressing safe motherhood concerns, providing adequate salaries for health workers, ensuring sufficient drugs in all government hospitals and health centers, and revamping most of the dilapidated health centers and hospitals.
The leaders condemned the management for having allowed the crisis to escalate to Uganda Shs.1 billion an indication that authorities have been sleeping on their job.
“Government that is in charge of the budget process every year must have known that Mulago was not paying its water bills and couldn’t wait for this to happen. This kind of playing with people’s health is playing with women’s lives. As a matter of fact, this is trampling with our dignity and it is totally unacceptable” said Miria Matembe a renowned women rights activist.
They therefore called on government to address the management issues not only at the referral hospital but in all the health centers and hospitals towards their smooth running and their ability to efficiently provide services to the citizens. They also called on the Ugandan citizenry to rise up and challenge such issues and demand for the stolen public funds

By Ali Kaviri

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