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Delay to access ICU bed killed RDC Santos Okot -Family

The departed Resident District Commissioner of Gulu, Maj Santos Okot Lapolo

Gulu, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The departed Resident District Commissioner of Gulu, Maj Santos Okot Lapolo has paid the ultimate price after a delay to access the ICU bed at Mulago costed his life, the bereaved family has revealed.

The Gulu District LC5 Chairperson Martin Ojara Mapenduzi communicated the family’s disclosure to the State Foreign Minister Oryem Okello who represented the government at the burial. The disclosure angered the hundreds of mourners who murmered in disapproval.

In his last message to COVI-19 Task Force that he chaired while on his sickbed, Lapolo urged the members to “stay calm but vigilant and watchful” and to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to protect their families and the community.

“Dear members, I am at our Gulu Regional Referral Hospital CTU undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with COVID-19.” Lapolo’s message on the Task Force WhatsApp group read in part. HE added: “According to expert handlers, my conditions is stabilizing. Miss you all. Don’t compromise on your Health. The results can be catastrophic.” Unfortunately, he died of the contagion on Saturday 9th from Kampala here he was referred after his condition deteriorated.

He was buried on Monday in his ancestral home in Orom Sub-County, Kitgum District. However, there was drama after leaders accused government of having not done enough to save life of the deceased who was allegedly abandoned by the health workers.

The deceased’s family confided in Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu District LC5 Chairperson with whom Lapolo closely worked under COVID-19 Gulu Task Force and revealed he died after being abandoned among 17 other patients at the COVID-19 red-light room without caregivers.

Mapenduzi, relayed the family’s dissatisfaction and that of the leaders in the region to the government through minister Oryem Okello who attended the burial.

The burial time which was slated for 10:00 am was deferred to the afternoon after materials for the grave construction had reportedly not yet arrived from State House. The anomaly sparked outrage among the mourners who had run out of patience.

Attempts to seek comment from the Mulago Hospital was futile at the press time. But Samuel Odonga Otto, the Aruu County MP weighed in saying the government and the whole world is over whelmed with Coronavirus Disease.

“Lapolo was great but there should not be preferential treatment. What about those dying and they are not RDCs?” Odonga Otto posed the question.

Meanwhile, Steven Balmoi, a political commentator in Acholi says: “Only the rich who can probably pay at the private facilities will survive. Even lower cadres in government won’t survive this raging pandemic and the government needs to reconsider equipping regional referrals with fully functional ICU beds.” Balmoi explained.

Currently, the COVID-19 death toll in Uganda stands at 301 from 37,742 confirmed cases according to the Ministry of Health, with 12, 852 recoveries since April 2020.

Globally, the killer disease has claimed up to 1.9 million lives from a total of 90.4 million cases and 50.1 million recoveries.

According to the World Health Organization – WHO, there are currently more than 50 COVID-19 candidate vaccines in trials. WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, business and global health organizations to speed up the pandemic response to protect people in all countries.




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