Uganda’s First Covid-19 death, A tale Of Irresponsible Health Workers

By Markson Omagor



Uganda, a country that has been lauded for registering zero deaths since Covid-19 virus struck, reported its first death yesterday.


Watching the Director General Health Services in Uganda, Henry Mwebesa addressing the press was painful – and why do I say painful?


The death of the 34-year-old woman was not because Ugandan Doctors failed to treat her but because inept health workers at Wasungui HC II in Namisindwa district could not read the clear signs of the virus.


Imagine Dr. Mwebesa told the whole world that the deceased showed all the clinical symptoms of Covid-19.


“The patient presented with all the COVID-19 like signs and symptoms – fever, dry cough, headache and difficulty in breathing.”


And the health workers at Wasungui HC II could not suspect that the patient could be having the deadly virus? The same team went ahead and admitted the patient in a HCII for 5 days treating acute pneumonia!!


We need to get serious here. Since when did HC II’s in Uganda develop the capacity to treat acute pneumonia? Or did the team at the HC II fail even to appreciate that acute pneumonia was beyond their reach?


I listened to the Director General talk of increased surveillance and tracking of contacts in Namisindwa and Mbale districts but I didn’t hear him talk of investigating both the health workers at Wasungui HC II and Hospice Center in Mbale.


For instance, is Wasungui HC II manned by qualified health personnel? And if so, were the qualified personnel present at the facility for all the period the patient was in their custody? These questions beg for answers because considering all the publicity given to the symptoms of corona virus any health worker his salt should have been able to clinically suspect that the deceased had the virus.


To make a bad situation worse, the patient was referred to Hospice Center Mbale for treatment of what? Since when did government develop a policy that referrals from lower health centers go to private hospitals? This too must be investigated.

Now Hospice Center Mbale, the one I know lacks a well-equipped Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where a patient with difficulty in breathing could have been taken. The question now is; why did Hospice Center Mbale accept to manage a case obviously beyond their capacity?


And if Hospice Mbale has trained doctors how comes they could fail to see the obvious symptoms the patient showed? Can the Ministry of Health investigate and find out the health workers who received and managed this case at Hospice Center Mbale. The purpose of which is to find out whether these health workers are qualified.


The Ministry of Health should not and should never hide its head in the sand because this death is not only shaming, it is barbaric! How can a patient die simply because the health workers could not even clinically diagnose a case that was so so symptomatic!!!


My conviction is that if the deceased had been managed well and brought to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital where there is a trained team and equipment; Uganda’s record would never have been broken in such a manner.



The MOH Presser



Mwebase said earlier reports had indicated that the deceased was not a Ugandan, which was not true. Further investigations have since established that she was a Ugandan from Manafwa, Bubulo East, Namabya- Namunyali- Sisongofwa in Namisindwa District.


Namisindwa District is bordered by Bududa District to the north, Kenya to the east and south, Tororo District to the south-west, and Manafwa District to the west.


The deceased was initially admitted to Wasungui HC II on Wednesday, 15th July, 2020 and treated for severe pneumonia. However, on Monday, 20th July, 2020, she was transferred to Joy Hospice health facility, in Mbale District, where she was isolated in the female ward.


While in isolation, the patient’s condition deteriorated with difficulty in breathing, cough, chills and headache. She passed on on Tuesday 21st July, 2020 at 2.00am.

The postmortem samples from the deceased were confirmed positive for SARS-COV-2 by 4 laboratories at UVRI, CPHL, Tororo and Makerere. In addition, findings at postmortem showed features of acute pneumonia, findings that are consistent with COVID-19 infection.



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