Lucky to be alive

Dr Ulimboka at Muhimbili ICU
The leader of the doctors’ boycott, Dr Stephen Ulimboka, suffered injuries to the head, chest and hands in the assault on Tuesday night that left him fighting for his life. He had wounds all over the body, according to doctors treating him. 

Prof Joseph Kahamba, who is heading a team of doctors treating their colleague, said Dr Ulimboka had suffered brain concussion but “we are working hard to save his life”.

“After he was beaten by those guys, Dr Ulimboka lost two teeth and some of his finger nails,” Prof Kahamba added. “He was badly injured but we are working hard to ensure that he is fine.”

Dr Ulimboka is the chairman of the interim doctors’ strike committee. He escaped death on Wednesday when he was kidnapped and tortured by unknown people and dumped at Mabwepande on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

Relatives and friends who visited Dr Ulimboka yesterday told The Citizen that he was in great pain but appeared to be in better shape and was able to recognise them. 

Through the relatives, he sent a message saying:  “I am doing well. My condition is not too bad like the day (Wednesday) they brought me here. But for now I want to rest and anyone who wants to see me should do so later.”

At Muhimbili, doctors mounted tight security to protect Dr Ulimboka from unwanted guests. The hospital’s public relations officer, Mr Almas Jumaa, said the doctors had arranged a schedule that would allow only important relatives and friends to visit Dr Ulimboka.

In another development, civil society organisations called yesterday for international investigations into the kidnapping and torture.  They raised questions over the quality of investigations into the case that could be expected from local police. 

Local investigators could be intimidated and only international and independent would resolve “this puzzle” without fear or favour, said Ms Ananilea Nkya, executive director of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (Tamwa).

Over at the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Executive Director Hellen Kijo-Bisimba echoed these sentiments, and added:  “For the time being, we are speculating that the government machinery has a hand in the matter.”

But the Police Force Commissioner for Operations, Mr Paul Chagonja, said the police were ready to engage private investigators if need be. The public should remain calm, he told The Citizen, and allow police to establish the truth.

Mr Chagonja denied reports that police were involved in the kidnapping. “The mistrust of the police that the public could have could be cleared by engaging private investigators,” said the commissioner.

“It’s unfair to come to the conclusion that the state machinery has been directly involved.... Dr Ulimboka has his personal life like other civilians, but we should not target anybody for the time being until it has been proven by the investigation.” 

Meanwhile, medical services continued to deteriorate yesterday at Muhimbili, the country’s leading referral facility, as doctors downed their tools and waited for news of Dr Ulimboka’s progress. Only emergency patients were attended while the operating theatre and the private clinics were closed. 

Reports from the northern zone indicated a go-slow by doctors and medical interns in hospitals in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Manyara.

At the Haydom Lutheran Hospital in Mbulu district, Manyara region, there were reports that interns had downed tools since Tuesday. Doctors who had not joined the nationwide strike were overwhelmed by the workload.

The hospital, located in the remote area some 300 kilometres south west of Arusha, is run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania and serves several districts in Manyara, Arusha, Singida and Shinyanga regions.
Source: The Citizen,

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