Lord Mayor Lukwago recounts his acute anaphylaxis ordeal.
Erias Lukwago, according to Nettech Media reporters who has for over a week been receiving treatment at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, returned to Uganda yesterday. “I feel I have resurrected. Only Allah knows why I am alive. I have gone through many problems, but there was none like this one,” he said. “Thank you for your prayers. Glory be to the Lord for His grace, blessings and gift of life.”
Lukwago arrived at his home in Wakaliga, a Kampala suburb, at 11:40 am and was received by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party officials, his friends and family. The Lord Mayor narrated ordeal starting with when he got breathing difficulties. At first, he thought it was a common cold. However, the problem intensified, forcing him to seek medical help at Rubaga Hospital in Kampala. At Rubaga, doctors told him he was suffering from acute anaphylaxis.
“I consulted many doctors, including an ENT expert, who showed me a lot of triggers, including pollen and perfumes,” he said. He said after being attended to, doctors at Rubaga discharged him. However, when he returned home, the problem worsened. “I telephoned Dr Kizza Besigye (the former FDC presidential candidate) and he linked up with Rubaga Hospital administrators to assist me,” he said. It later became apparent that he needed to see a pulmonologist. A pulmonologist is a physician who specialises in the respiratory system.
However, Lukwago said he soon realised that there were not many pulmonologists in town. This sparked panic among his family. “I thank Dr Besigye who kept monitoring me and consulting with other doctors,” he said.
After a long search for an expert, they were able to zero down on Prof. William Worodria of Makerere University. He said when Worodria, working with an expert Hassan Sozzi, finally examined him, it turned out that his condition could not be handled locally. He was subsequently referred to Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.
However, he could not get on the plane soon enough because of complicated travel requirements, some of which obliged him to first take a COVID-19 test to obtain a certificate which would be presented at Entebbe airport. This would not be got in another 48 hours, yet his situation was worsening.
When at last he arrived at Aga Khan, doctors found out that his lungs could not sustain breathing on his own. Lukwago said he soon realised that there were not many pulmonologists in town.
“They told me I had _ bronchial spasms and had developed vascular pulmonary dysfunction. There was fear of a blood clot in my lungs,” he said, adding that among other remedies. He was supposed to be put on blood thinners and oxygen.
Lukwago said he feels lucky because, in Kenya, the doctors that were considered the créme de la créme in Nairobi in the area of respiratory medicine were all Ugandans.
“A great deal of gratitude is owed to Prof. Godfrey Lule — who has worked in Kenya for over 40 years and is the most trusted pulmonologist in Nairobi. He worked with Dr Musoke and Dr Byakika Kagoda — all Ugandans — to help me get back my life,” he said.
He said the team of Ugandan doctors worked with other physicians, pulmonologists and health workers, particularly Dr Muhindi Wanjugu and Dr Hassan Ali Salim to help him.
Lukwago said as politicians, they have a duty to advocate a better healthcare sector in Uganda.
“When I fell sick, nobody referred me to Kiruddu Hospital. I was referred to Nairobi because of the inadequate healthcare here,” he said. He noted that there is a need to see to it that Uganda honours the Abuja Declaration, for which Uganda committed to scaling up the healthcare budget to at least 15% of the national budget. “Our President committed to it. Surprisingly, our health budget is not even half of what we committed to implementing,” he said. He said rather than committing more money into public administration such as creating more constituencies, the Government should prioritise healthcare.
“Our people are going to die helplessly if nothing is done. Let us rethink our strategies to address the crises we have in our healthcare system,” he said.