Govt Asked to Recruit Physiotherapists

With around 400 physiotherapists in the country, this brings the specialists to a patient ratio of 1: 63,000.

Audio 2

The Uganda Association of Physiotherapy has asked the government to recruit more Physiotherapists. 

They argue that they are exhausted and overworked and need physiotherapists recruited to reduce the workload. 

The Physiotherapists made the call during a press conference to commemorate the International Physiotherapy Day that is celebrated every September 7.

According to the World Health Organisation-WHO estimates, as many as 25 million Ugandans will need physiotherapy once in their lifetime. With around 400 physiotherapists in the country, this brings the specialists to a patient ratio of 1: 63,000.

The secretary-general of the association, and also a physiotherapist at Kibuli Hospital, Mwajuma Nakaziba, says that they are overworked due to the few professionals that are hired in both public and private hospitals.

She adds, this situation became worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

//Cue in; "Currently in Uganda... Cue out...our service."//

Physiotherapists are experts in the structure of the human body and its movement. They help treat musculoskeletal conditions or injuries as well as chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, stroke and accident injuries.

Harrison Uchungi, a physiotherapy specialist at the Uganda Heart Institute says the long working hours that physiotherapists are being exposed to are not normal. He says the government needs to intervene.

//Cue in; "One thing we...

Cue Out...patient's health."//

100 of the 400 physiotherapists in the country are found in government hospitals. Big hospitals such as Mulago National Referral Hospitals only have 10 physiotherapists who alternate between 16 departments.

According to Nakaziba, their plight was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic that often led to one physiotherapist having to treat over 100 patients in a day. This is 10 times higher than the World Health Organization recommended treatment policy.

With the number of COVID-19 cases in the country expected to increase, experts predict that more Ugandans will suffer from long COVID-19; which refers to health conditions that survivors of COVID-19 might suffer from even after testing negative for the disease. Health experts predict that over 9,000 Ugandans will suffer from long COVID and will need a physiotherapist to help them recover.

In such a scenario, physiotherapists say this will mean more work for them. Jonas Mwesigye, a senior physiotherapist at Mulago hospital says a peak in COVID-19 cases will lead to an increase in fatigue of health workers.

"At the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, around 800 people were admitted at Mulago but there was only one physiotherapist sent to help all these people every day. This number is so high and can lead to mistakes being done," Mwesigye said.

"We want the government to hire more people because the current demand for our services is very high. The few numbers currently employed in big hospitals like Mulago are no longer enough," Mwesigye said.

Dr Joseph Okware, the Director in charge of governance and regulation at the ministry of health says they are working towards filling all health cadres.

“The ministry is currently hiring different health cadres to try and reduce cases of fatigue among health workers. We are addressing this and hope we shall have the right numbers soon," he said.