Health Minister, Dr Ruth Aceng has said that the health situation of MPs Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) and Francis Zaake did not warrant for them to be evacuated for medical treatment abroad as they were “normal”.
Kyadondo MP, Kyagulanyi and Mityana municipality MP, Zaake are currently in the U.S and New Delhi respectively where they were flown to receive specialized medical care. The two claim they were badly tortured by security personnel following their arrest in Arua district weeks ago.
Last week, Police blocked both legislators at Entebbe airport demanding that they undergo medical examination by government medics (specialists) as the procedure requires.
Now, Minister for Health has told the media that preliminary findings from the examinations found both Bobi Wine and Zaake to be in normal shape.
“The medical Board did not release Zaake and Bobi Wine with referral letters to go abroad. There was nothing significant to warrant their going abroad,” the Minister said during a press briefing at Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday.
“We could have treated them in the country but they didn’t want to be touched by government doctors and we can’t force them. They have a right to decline treatment,” Dr Aceng added.
Lawyers of Bobi Wine have previously alleged that he suffered an injured back ligament as well as a kidney problem. But these were false claims according to the Minister who again quoted the preliminary findings from the medical report.
“There was no problem with the ligament and kidney according to the preliminary findings. Laywers are not specialists to state what injuries their clients suffered,” she said.
She added that government specialists had no way of verifying Bobi Wine’s allegations that he was injected with unknown substances while in detention since he did not request for an analysis of his blood samples.
The Medical Board guidelines stipulate that a patient seeking to be flown abroad for treatment must be examined by a specialist. However, in Zaake’s case, he was only attended to by a physician, a family physician, an intern and one general surgeon.
“You can not rely on such a report,” she said.
In the same case, she said the reasons given for referral were assessment for post traumatic stress, convulsion and possible injuries. But the Minister says that medical reports must be specific on what diagnosis has been made, not staggering statements.
Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the State Minister for Land who represented the Information Minister accused both MPs Bobi Wine and Zaake of using their purported illnesses to play political theatrics.
“After assessment, the two MPs were found to be normal. From the medical point of view, there was nothing that necessitated specialized treatment. It was just politics,” Baryomunsi said.
While there have been reports in the media faulting the government, particularly the Medical Board of delaying the transfer of Zaake and Bobi Wine from Uganda for treatment, Dr Aceng refuted these reports as untrue.
She said neither of the two made a request to the Medical Board in regard to receiving such treatment abroad, as the procedure states.
“The Medical Board hasn’t received any request from Bobi or Zaake requesting for referral abroad. There are guidelines for transfer both for individuals who draw funds from government and those who do it privately”.
She said that these procedures are important both for accountability, to protect the image of Uganda and to cater for any eventualities like death and problems that could befall the patient while abroad.
“We need to save the face of Uganda abroad. The receiving people will wonder whether we have specialists here since Ugandan doctors are renown abroad,” Minister Aceng said.
She faulted the delay in the case of Zaake to his failure to cooperate with government specialists who waited outside his hospital room for 4 hours on Friday after the MP had refused to be examined.
On his part, Baryomunsi said: “If we refer you abroad when you have flu, the receiving medics will wonder whether Uganda can not handle such situations”.
“There are also medical legal issues that require engaging the embassy of Uganda there. You have to have followed the procedure. When you deal with quack facilities and say they remove some of your organs, it will be important that we have your records”.
According to the Ministry of Health, the Medical Board is due to sit today to finalise the medical report for both MPs which will be handed to the Police which sanctioned it.