Mulago National Referral Hospital has experienced a significant increase in the number of patients requiring emergency surgeries, which health experts attribute to a rise in road accidents.
Dr. Michael Edgar Muhumuza, the head of neurosurgery at the hospital, revealed this increase during an announcement about an upcoming surgical camp to be held from October 2 to October 6. He explained that just five months ago, the hospital typically treated 10 to 12 patients per week in their casualty theater. However, they now attend to a minimum of 30 patients a week, with numbers occasionally reaching close to 40, marking a threefold increase.
Dr. Muhumuza expressed concern over the growing trend of accidents caused by reckless road behavior, including disregarding traffic rules and not wearing helmets. He emphasized the need for improved road safety.
The increase in emergency surgeries also involves children, who are sometimes hit by vehicles while walking to school or playing near roads. Dr. Muhumuza cited four children with head injuries as an example of the concerning cases they encounter.
According to the 2022 Police Annual Crime Report, 650 children under the age of 18 lost their lives in road accidents that year. The report also noted an overall increase in fatal road accidents from 3,757 in 2021 to 3,901 in 2022.
Dr. Nobert Orwotho, the head of surgical services at Mulago hospital, highlighted that the influx of accident victims often delays surgeries for other patients with different medical conditions. This delay occurs because accident victims are treated as emergency cases.
A 2020 study conducted at Mulago hospital showed that extended waiting times for surgery could lead to increased disease severity, complications, suffering, and even death.
Managing the aftermath of road accidents is costly for the hospital, with a daily expenditure of more than Shs76 million. These expenses cover human resources, blood tests, and medicine.
The spokesperson for the Directorate of Traffic and Road Safety at the Uganda police force, SP Michael Kananura, attributed the accidents primarily to reckless driving behaviors such as speeding and improper overtaking. The police have been working to raise awareness about road safety and enforce traffic regulations.
To address the growing need for surgeries, Mulago Hospital is organizing a surgical camp with over 80 surgeons ready to provide medical care. The hospital aims to handle approximately 4,000 patients during the camp, offering free surgical services and necessary supporting facilities like the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), laboratory tests, and X-rays. The camp will take place from October 2 to October 6.