Lab technician arrested in Karamoja for causing death of two Covid-19 suspects

Lamson Okidi

Lamson Okidi

Police in Karenga district in Karamoja sub-region, northeastern Uganda has arrested a laboratory technician attached to Kapedo health centre III for allegedly refusing to carry out a test on Covid-19 suspects, demanding to first be paid his allowance.

Robert Lamson Okidi was arrested on Saturday afternoon following the death of two patients whose blood samples he refused to take to ascertain their sickness to make it easy to administer treatment on them. This week, the ministry of Health informed nurses across the country that their unpaid allowances will be paid next month and not this month as earlier communicated. 

Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka, the Karenga resident district commissioner (RDC) who also doubles as chairman district task force on Covid-19 said that the arrest of Okidi was prompted by the report by the health officer in charge of Kapedo to the district task force. According to Hashaka, Dr Maruk Marmar Lousi reported to the task force that one of his staff had refused to work claiming he wants to be paid first.

"It's against this that I ordered for the arrest of the lab technician because he shouldn't have refused to attend to the patients," Hashaka said.

Lousi, the officer in charge of Kapedo health centre III when contacted, confirmed that Okidi had refused to work, causing the death of two people who had presented signs of Covid-19.

"I tried to plead with the guy to work but he became rough [with] me, so we couldn't guess what treatment to give the patients without knowing what they were suffering from so these patients died just like that," he said.

Betty Awilly, one of the village health team (VHTs) attached to Kapedo health centre said the lab technician has been arrogant towards patients, adding that sometimes he comes to the health centre on his own time.

"Sometimes I ask myself why do people cry for jobs and when God blesses them with the jobs they become a stress to the local community," she said.

Majid Sentosi, the district police commander Karenga confirmed the arrest of the officer saying he will be charged with negligence.

"We have him in our custody and our file is almost ready, we will produce him before court to answer charges of negligence," he said.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd