As health workers, we neglected our active citizenry and concentrated on curative medicine of which we are being blamed.
OPINION | DOCTORS STRIKE
By James William Mugeni
The medical doctors are on strike since November 6. The industrial action as called can never be timely than it is today. There is nothing nobler than talking for the people we serve and ourselves. Some of us had long resigned from active service delivery due to the docility the medical people exhibit.
I can forgive ordinary physicians, but public health workers have been a disservice to this country.
With a diploma in clinical medicine and public health, there is no part of this country that I have not touched either through direct service or research.
Through my workings, I found myself being drawn to public life and rubbing shoulders with politics and politicians because public health is 100% politics. Latrine coverage, water coverage, roads, housing, markets, schools, which we cover as subjects are basically political. They involve a lot of litigation and legislation.
If all of us clinical officers cared, we would perhaps be the ones in leadership. Health indicators which politicians pick to make political statements like life expectancy, maternal mortality, infant mortality and others are our data and subjects.
Catchment area which for sure is the number of people mapped out for a service like health centre I,II, III,IV etc are all a matter of politics and political talk. Who of you as clinical officers have not been confronted by health committees who are the LC5 and his political wing?
As health workers, we neglected our active citizenry and concentrated on curative medicine of which we are being blamed. We left the gap to grow but let us wake up we have a role to play in how the people we offer service are governed and we can catch up so fast, if we take advantage of the industrial action. It is time for us to get organised and let us be grateful for the Uganda Medical Association
Gauge yourself ask yourself what you are today in your catchment area. As a medical clinical officer, I am lucky to be what I am. I speak and I stand out in public administration as an opinion leader. I have twice resigned from jobs to seek a parliamentary seat the unsuccessful but it has created space for me to be an opinion leader in all aspects of life. Public administrators mediate between the elected governments and citizens. Public administrators move policy through implementation.
Direct citizens involvement in these process add value to local governance. Citizens can share authority active citizen can reduce personal and organisational control they can create trust in the value of collaboration they can be consulted on what is going on in their areas. Politicians like taking advantage of ill-informed communities that if not addressed; they are easy to bundle up in a monologue.
How can a doctor of repute or clinical officer fail to articulate maTters of their areas and instead accept blame?
Community or local government, as a matter of fact, depends to the large extent on the citizens paying an active role beyond voting. All this requires an effective institutional infrastructure and functioning legislature, which is citizen driven. And the citizens need to prove their worth as part of a set of core institutions. Effective legislatures help to sustain democracy, where it exists and elsewhere help to democratise by fulfilling the promise inherent in the public's right to be represented.
In many local governments, the population (citizen) lack an institutional consciousness. They are weak or non- existent and members lack a vision or concern for the power and development of their areas.
Citizens and groups in civil society often do not understand the workings of the state and are often unskilled in articulating their needs to the legislature. Communities lack most of the time the constitutional or legal authority to carry out a significant oversight role. Many communities lack access to the information required for them to adequately analyse government proposals. Many communities lack prepared resource persons and professional legislative staff. Surely if you are a doctor, a nurse, a clinical officer and any other health professional how do you qualify to be the peasant the politicians brag about? And how can you fail to influence voters to choose people who are service driven.
How can you treat people who can't vote a service? Communities lack resource persons and suffer as a result and you position yourself as curer of all their remedies from inadequate facilities and equipment! This is a lie communities deserve better from us not as people who treat but as advocates. It pays to be an active member (citizen) of the community I have done such roles although landing me into trouble because I was ill defined by politicians. Citizens can play a big role in lifting up their communities.
Healthcare, security, political stability and development projects are all affected by citizen participation they can be good or bad depending on citizens input.
The writer is a clinical officer