By Francis Kagolo

KAMPALA, March 21 The Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council (UMDPC) has disputed a World Bank report which compared the ability of Ugandan doctors to that of Kenyan nurses, saying it is “fake”.

“We are really concerned about the report for damaging the image of our country. We are writing to the World Bank. We want them to give us the full methodology they used to come up with this wanton statement,” said Dr. Katumba Ssentongo, the UMDPC registrar.

“A study that compares people in different categories (doctors and nurses) has never existed. If they wanted, they should have compared doctors and doctors or nurses and nurses.”

Ssentongo made the remarks while addressing a press conference at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Thursday.

The Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) report compiled by the World Bank and the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) recently showed that 42 per cent of Ugandan doctors do not give accurate diagnosis. An estimated 58 per cent of the doctors got the diagnosis accurate, compared with 72 per cent in Kenya, 57 per cent in Tanzania and 34 per cent in Senegal.

Yet even when doctors correctly diagnose a condition, there is no guarantee the patient would be treated.
“Indeed, the correct treatment was recommended in only 36 per cent of the cases, reflecting weak provider knowledge,” the report said.

It added: “Doctors in Uganda performed at about the same level as Kenyan nurses on both diagnostic accuracy and the capability to provide full treatment.”

According to the report, there is no significant difference in knowledge and skill between health providers in Uganda’s private health facilities and those in the public sector.

However, the medical council chairperson Prof. Joel Okullo said the report did not indicate the number of doctors interviewed and from where.

Okullo explained that the UMPDC had information that the study was conducted in lower health centres II and IIIs where there are no doctors. Lower health centres, he explained, are manned by clinical officers and nursing assistants, not doctors.

“We were greatly concerned about the statement that our doctors are equal to Kenyan nurses. It was grossly inaccurate,” Okullo stated. “There is a common tendency of people referring to all staff in a health facility as doctors. It is possible that the title doctor is also misused in this report to refer to all kinds of workers including nursing assistants.”

Okullo added: “This is not to say we have no challenges of incompetence, but not as bad as the World Bank wants the world to believe.”

Citing a recent job advert for 110 Ugandan doctors in Trinidad and Tobago, Okullo said Ugandan doctors are sought after worldwide. He added that many Ugandan doctors have excelled abroad.

“This means it is not an issue of knowledge, but the absence of resources, that is affecting health service delivery in Uganda,” he noted. “Our doctors do not perform to their ability in Uganda due to lack of adequate equipment and low salaries.”


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