Today a group of six Drake students had the unique opportunity to visit Mulago Hospital. Located in Kampala, the hospital serves as the main government hospital in Uganda and is the largest hospital in East Africa. The hospital does not charge its patients any money for the services it provides, which can range from treatment for malaria to cesarean sections. The group was lead around by a tour guide and an ear, nose and throat doctor. Some of the notable destinations during the visit were a tour of a general ward and a private ward. A general ward consists of beds stacked next to each, often overflowing into the hallway, with some patients having to lie on mattresses on the floor. Private rooms, on the other hand, are not as private as one would think and consist of a large room with curtains separating the patients. These rooms also boast a “private” bathroom while patients on the general ward have one large communal bathroom per wing. The tour continued with a viewing of the maternity ward. This ward was a true culture shock as mothers who had just given birth were crowded in one hallway outside sitting on the floor and benches while awaiting to be discharged; only mothers with extreme medical conditions were allowed beds after giving birth. The group also visited the pediatric unit, which had similar conditions comparable to that of the general ward. Finally, the group was able to walk through the Cancer Institute. Patients were scattered throughout the Institute while the caregivers of the patients were forced to sit outside due to a lack of space. Overall, the experience was very eye-opening and far different than the conditions at Mukono Hospital, which is a much smaller health care center. The overcrowding of the hospital and the general conditions were the most surprising part of the tour, and provided a stark contrast from health care provided in the United States. After talking with the ear, nose, and throat doctor at the hospital, it was apparent that a lack of staff was the main problem at Mulago. For example, there are usually only two nurses for up to seventy patients. Furthermore, a career in health care at government run institutions are often not profitably enough to attract newly graduated medical students. In order for hospitals like Mulago to become more sustainable, the understaffing problem must be addressed to meet all the needs of the Uganda citizens.
[The front entrance of the hospital]
[The private ward-there were four patients in this room separated by the curtains pictured]
[The patients laying out laundry; each patient must provide their own bedding while at the hospital]
[The general ward in the pediatric unit; the children had been moved temporarily to clean the ward]