A nurse whose picture went viral on social media for pushing a patient in a wheel chair from her health center to Arua Regional Referral Hospital last week has caught the attention of the Ugandan parliament.
Dorish Okundinia, a nurse at the Catholic owned Ediofe Mission Dispensary in Arua municipality was photographed on Thursday last week pushing a patient in critical condition on a wheel chair for over 2 kilometers after failing to secure an ambulance.
Okundinia told the local Ugandan media she decided to wheel the patients after waiting for an ambulance to rush him to hospital for over five hours in vain. Her heroic action drew praise and anguish from social media users and Arua district authorities led by the Deputy Resident District Commissioner-RDC, Alice Akello.
The RDC summoned Okundinia and Alfred Nyakuni, a presenter at Radio Pacis who took the picture for allegedly acting unprofessionally when they posted the patient’s picture on social media.
Akello told reporters that the nurse needs to answer for acting unprofessionally by rolling a patient on a wheelchair for over 2km distance and leaving her duty station unattended to while Nyakuni is wanted for taking a patient’s picture and sharing it on social media without his consent.
On Tuesday, the nurse’s heroic act came up in parliament when her area Member of Parliament, Bernard Atiku complained to the speaker of Uganda’s parliament, Rebecca Kadaga that the nurse is under pressure and immense intimidation from district authorities because of her braveness.
“This lady should be appreciated for exemplary exhibition of what our health workers are doing on the ground. Therefore I want to put it to you madam speaker that this lady be appreciated instead of being intimidate so as not to scare people from offering support when it is needed,” he said.
In her ruling, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga said Okundinia should be awarded for excellent service with the Labor Day award. She tasked the Presidency Minister to take up the matter, saying the nurse should be awarded instead of being intimidated.
“I saw the lady and commended her. I will nominate her for an award. I know Labor Day will not take place but I will nominate her. They should be assisting her to do her work instead of intimidating her. Please inform the minister for presidency to handle that issue,” she said.
Several people have been struggling to access health services in Uganda since government announced a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the corona virus pandemic. A number of women have given birth on their way to hospital because of their failure to access transport because of the ban on public and private vehicles.
Currently, all people with the exception of those with movement stickers are required to secure written authorisation from Resident District Commissioner in their areas in emergency cases to drive their vehicles or use any other available means of transport to access emergency services.
Contributed by Ahmed Wetaka, Kampala-Uganda