I also didn’t know what that word meant until last week, when I was having a conversation with a colleague.
Once in a while, during the week, I go sweat it out on the basketball court with a couple of friends. I had played basketball with this friend of mine, who we shall call Dan, for a very long time, since childhood, and now we were here, seating and discussing worldly issues. As we played, we kept on talking, about our professions. Like me, he’d done a 5 year course and we always consoled ourselves that we weren’t alone.
Dan is a Doctor at Mulago, and that eventful evening, we started chatting about the budget, whether the Health sector shall be awarded more resources and if this would be enough. Dan at his young age had seen quite a lot in Mulago, enough to last a life time, yet here, he smiled, laughed at how passionate he was in medicine. We laughed at the ridiculousness of our budget, of how hospitals had run out of blood. Being the inquisitive me, I asked whether Mulago had run out of blood too like the other hospitals.
Dan exclaimed, ” Blood is not the issue here!”
“Why?” I asked.
“You don’t even know half of what goes on!”
“Seriously!?!. . .” I retorted.
“The truth is, there’s no blood anywhere. In fact, blood is not the issue. Sutures. Needles. Gloves. Hospitals lack medical supplies. It really hurts me when a patient comes in at 3:00 am in the night, and I have to send them away because the hospital has run out of supplies. A national hospital runs out of drip needles. Drip needles I tell you. I am a paediatrician, and there’s different sizes of drip needles. There are those for a child, and those for an adult. You can’t use those of an adult on a child, you’d kill it. Sometimes I am forced to walk around the hospital till I find one.”
At this point, I am speechless. A National Referral Hospital runs out of supplies.
I ask, “So, what do you do? What’s the solution?”
“There’s no solution to lack of medical supplies. Sometimes you are forced to send patients away. I mean, that’s the best help you can give them. Just know, I’ve learned to find my way out, give the best help with the least medical supplies.”
At this point, I am not even furious. I am scared of falling sick. I muse at how the government cuts the health budget and allocates it to other less needy sectors.
Talking to Dan just makes me realise I need to make an effort, and effort to live a better a life because honestly, there’s a lot of bullshit out there in this country.
We muse at how none of these people in politics are affected by some of these things. Whenever an MP, Minister, Army General, Member of the First family, a very rich person falls sick or gets medical complications, they are airlifted to Nairobi or other hospitals outside of Uganda. How can they know the plight of the poor, the needy let alone the medical profession. We also realise that the guys leading these sectors, are fucking social artists, business administrators. Ok, they may not be that, but the doctors are not being led or represented by a Doctor at the top. The guy who knows what it means for a hospital to run out of supplies. Someone who knows what it takes to give the best quality health services. Someone who knows that at the core of a thriving society is a thriving and booming health sector. Simply put, you need a healthy society and who are the game changers here? The freaking DOCTORS.
At this point, we don’t really care about the basketball game. We are deeply held in this conversation we are having. He asks me about my architecture and am like that’s useless now. We just put up buildings, nothing more to it I say.
He tells me of how he’s limited to 2 sutures during surgery. Sutures are basically the strings/threads that they use to saw you up after being cut. Sutures like surgical blades come in different sizes and depending on the size used, this affects the scars and the beauty of the scar. Sutures are very important because depending on the surgery done on you, different sizes are needed. Surprise surprise when he tells me that he’s only limited to two during an operation. If the worst comes to the worst and he runs out of sutures, well, let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that. He reminisces on how he’s learnt to use supplies given their limited nature and supply. Not all hope is lost here.
We sit and continue to muse about our professions and how we started from the bottom. I can’t help but wonder at how mentally mature and amazing this friend of mine is. He has been trained to save lives, the very lives of people who’ve turned a blind eye on what they need to survive. We talk about blood donation drives. He tells me two astonishing things.
1. The highest donors of blood in Uganda are students in high schools. But this has to be filtered and made sure it’s ready and good for use.
2. If you donated blood, and you were in a situation where you needed blood, you are and will be served first. Basically, if you gave blood, you deserve to be given blood too.
SO, go donate blood people. You eventually come first when your turn comes.
I can’t help but wonder, can we really be saved. I really don’t care about the budget reading or that they plan to make roads! As long as key sectors like Health keep on being overlooked, I can’t smile and associate myself with these kind of people.
Well. . .
I am just sharing this random piece of thought. . .
Unfortunately, this is not a half price, two for one blog. Serious issues at stake. Peace.