Government has asked the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC) to open an inquiry into deaths of Ugandans following brain surgeries performed by American doctors at Mengo hospital between October 23 and 29.
The Observer has learned that the ministry of Health recently wrote to UMDPC to find out what went wrong.
Last week, UMDPC registrar, Dr Katumba Ssentongo Gubala, said: “We received a letter from the ministry of health on Monday (December 18) signed by acting director general, Health Services, Henry Mwebesa, directing us to investigate the alleged deaths following a neurosurgical camp at Mengo hospital and provide a detailed report of what happened within two weeks”.
The letter titled, ‘Deaths following a neurosurgical camp of Mengo hospital’ states that while on a TV talk show recently, state minister for Health Sarah Achieng Opendi was asked about the neurosurgical camp at Mengo hospital and five patients who died.
A day after the talk show, the minister met Mengo hospital management who reportedly informed her that the camp was carried out by neurosurgical surgeons from Duke University, USA.
Some family members of the dead have raised fears that among the visiting surgeons were junior doctors not competent to carry out such complex procedures.
Under public pressure, the director of medical services at Mengo, Dr Rose Mutumba, finally agreed to speak to
the media last week, saying 33 patients underwent surgery, 28 successfully, while five died. She said this was “normal”.
The Observer has confirmed the deaths of Al Hajji Issa Kikungwe (former MP Kyadondo South), Hajji Mustafah Kisayire of Makindye, Francis Angelo Onen of Gulu and two girls. It is expected that the UMDPC inquiry will reveal the exact number of fatalities.
Mengo maintains the ministry of health cleared the camp which was conducted by senior neurosurgeons headed by a professor of neurosurgery at Duke University.
The hospital told Opendi that the camp is an annual event held in conjunction with Mulago hospital’s neurosurgery department but last year it started rotating to other hospitals like Mbarara and Mengo. Dr Katumba said UMDPC has since written to Mengo.
“UMDPC has been tasked to issue a report concerning the deaths of Ugandans following the neurosurgical camp at Mengo hospital. Section 2(d) and (e) of UMDPC Act, mandates the council to investigate all reported cases of professional misconduct to protect the public,” he said.
“This is why we asked for a report in three days from receipt of this letter, along with all the patient les handled during this camp. It’s part of investigations that should guide the council in making an informed decision into the matter,” Katumba said.