BLOOD MONEY: Monitor Photo-Journalist Ssenkubuge Died As Mengo Hospital Demanded For Payments

JB Ssenkubuge in one of the sports events he cherished most COURTESY PHOTO


MMENGO- SHIFTMEDIA-Though the Patients’ Charter is very clear, no patient should be detained by health facilities for failure to clear the hospital bills. Mengo Hospital is on the spot for not only delaying to operate an emergency case, but for also detaining a body until the balance was duly cleared.

This according to the public uproar regarding the mishandling of the case that led to the death of Monitor sports photographer John Bugembe Ssenkubuge is a violation of Section 2 and 3 of the Prevention of Torture Act that says detaining a patient over nonpayment of medical bills amounts to torture.

According to Nilepost. Ssenkubuge, who has been a sports photographer for the news daily was pronounced dead last Friday after he succumbed at Mengo Hospital.

The medical records indicated that Ssenkubuge succumbed to high blood pressure that led to a raptured nerve and spilled blood into his brain.

The deceased had earlier fainted at a motor garage in Mulago and dashed to a nearby clinic for handling before being referred to Mengo Hospital as his condition was not changing for the better.

However, the family narrates that on reaching Mengo Hospital, they were told to pay shs900,000 ahead to enable different tests and diagnosis, which they did.

The diagnosis pointed to particular bleeding in the brain requiring emergency surgery to save the life of the 52-year-old.

Alas, the hospital developed complications when they demanded that the family first foot the surgery bill (Shs9m) halfway, or else the hospital would not treat the patient.

According to fellow journalist Ephraim Kasozi who was by the bedside of Ssenkubuge, they were then asked to at least pay Shs2m to activate the chance of seeing Ssenkubuge wheeled into the theatre.

While the family ran up and down, contacted well-wishers to help raise the money, Ssenkubuge lay in hospital, his situation precarious while family and friends searched high and low for money to foot the bills for his urgent medical condition.

It was not until 8 hours had passed (at about 4 pm), that the now unresponsive Ssekubuge was taken in for surgery.

The surgery though pronounced successful after about 4 hours; would later prove a little too late as Ssenkubuge failed to wake up from it.

At this time, most of the hospital staff had vanished, including one Dr. Obiga who had been in charge of the surgery.

Despite this, the hospital management demanded that Ssenkubuge’s body would only be released to relatives after the balance of was paid.

“Members, information coming from Mengo is that the hospital still wants us to raise shs4.6m- in order to release JB’s body back to the family so funeral arrangements can commence,” a communique was passed to Ssenkubuge’s workmates hours after his death

Hospital Speaks out

Mengo Hospital has however dismissed reports, adding that they take the life of their patients as a priority above anything else.

In 2016 the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC), an association that protects society from abuse of medical and dental practices said  it was illegal for a given health facility to detain a patient for failure to pay the outstanding medical bills. The Monitor  also quoted Moses Mulumba the Executive Director Center for Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) saying that legally, health facilities are not supposed to detain patients over nonpayment of medical bills.


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