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Private health facilities can’t train medical interns-medical council

Dr. Richard Idro, the President Uganda Medical Association

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Uganda Medical Association-UMA wants the government to accredit private hospitals to offer internship placement to medical doctors. 

Dr. Richard Idro, the President Uganda Medical Association, says they have recommended to the Health Ministry and talked to some private hospitals to offer medical internship owing to the pressure in the government facilities.  

There are currently 35 sites across the country where medical interns are deployed for a period of one year for training under the supervision of specialists in government and mission hospitals. Over 500, interns are sent out to these sites every year save for 2020 where only 161 intern doctors were sent out due to interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With such a big number of fifth year medical students graduating each year, Idro says they are not getting adequate training and yet are straining the facilities where go to get skills.  He says some private hospitals have specialists who can supervise the junior doctors. 

But, Dr. Katumba Ssentongo, the Registrar of Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, a government entity charged with accrediting internship sites and licensing interns says many private facilities are not yet ready to train. 

He says two big hospitals have already expressed interest to offer internship but when they visited the facility, they found them lacking both in human resource and infrastructure.

Speaking to URN on Monday, Ssentongo said while they are ready to accept private providers to train junior doctors, the facilities should have a patient load that can enable a trainee explore a number of conditions that they expect to meet when they finally join the profession.

On the minimum, he says the hospital should be one hundred bed capacity facility, with a guarantee of having that number of patients at any one time.    

Ssentongo says if any of the facilities can meet that criterion, then they would accredit them. He, however, says the providers would face challenges of convincing their patients or clients who many times have paid a lot of money to see a doctor to be treated by a medical intern. 

Currently, medical interns receive a net salary of Shs700, 000 in addition to being accommodated. Most of the interns work alone with a supervising doctor on call, which contravenes the guidelines. As a result, some interns have ended up making gross medical errors that have had their supervisors apprehended. 

The most recent scenario was at Jinja hospital where an unsupervised medical intern plucked off a baby’s limb in the process of conducting a complicated caesarian section operation.



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