Arua, Uganda | URN | A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral Hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation.
The incident happened on Saturday 29, May 2022, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.
According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.
Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says, although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.
“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7:00 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation.
We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.
Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.
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“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said.
When contacted, Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting Arua Regional Referral Hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.
Arua City Resident District commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua Regional Referral Hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.