There is heavy police deployment at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital. It follows attempts by a group of opposition activists to distribute relief items to patients at the hospital. Last week, a group of opposition activists wrote to the Masaka Regional Referral Hospital requesting permission to distribute relief to patients. Muhammad Ssegilinya, one of the activists told URN that the relief items include sugar, soap, cotton wool, mama kits, maize flour, beans and money. According to Ssegirinya, the items were donated by well wishers in Kampala and Masaka to show solidarity with poor patients who are neglected by the hospital management.
However, their request was rejected by the management of the hospital and the district security committee. Inspite of this, the activists vowed to go ahead with their plan to distribute the relief items to patients, some of whom they claimed are going without food. Ssegilinya told URN that they would go ahead and distribute the relief items this morning with or without permission. This morning, heavily armed anti riot police led by Eddie Sserunjogi, the Masaka District police commander deployed at the all the gates entering the hospital.
They also erected barricades at the Hospital round about. Noah Sserunjogi, the Southern region police spokesperson says they are only allowing hospital workers and patients to enter the hospital. Chrissy Owor Odoi, the Masaka RDC says he has ordered police not to allow any activists in the hospital because the security committee did not approve their request to district relief item to patients.
Odoi also says that police is hunting for Ingrid Tulinaawe, the FDC women League chairperson and Muhammad Ssegirinya, those behind the campaign to distribute the relief items. Owor says that despite the fact that the distribution of relief is a good gesture, they have intelligence information that theactivists plan to hold a demonstration in the hospital.
The heavy deployment has raised anxiety amongst health workers and patients in the the hospital. Dr. Florence Tugumisirize, the Director Masaka Regional Referral Hospital has declined to comment about the matter saying they are locked up a in a meeting. Several cars entering the hospitals and residents have to undergo thorough checks before they are allowed in.
Last month, health activists criticized Masaka hospital for the distribution of food to patients for two years, leading to the death of dozens of patients because of starvation. Masaka Hospital admitted that some patients had succumbed to hunger, but said the food distribution had since been restored.