Doctors at Kiruddu hospital have warned that the spine problem that is troubling Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze could get worse if not given urgent attention.
Nambooze was hospitalised last week on Saturday after her health condition deteriorated at a time she was being held at Naggalama police station. She was first injured during a fracas at parliament on September 27 last year, triggered by controversies on a proposal to remove the cap on the presidential age from the Constitution.
During the time, security personnel believed to be attached to the elite presidential guards, Special Forces Command invaded parliament to evict a group of legislators who had been suspended by the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
She was then flown to Manipal Spine Care Centre in India where she underwent surgery. According to her medical report, doctors said that she had suffered spinal cord compression and had undergone posterior lumbar decompression and fusion. The surgical procedure joins two or more bones together into one solid bone.
Online research indicates that spinal compression constitutes a true emergency because the initial injury to the spinal cord will lead to permanent loss of neurological function if the pressure on the cord is not relieved quickly.
A referral letter signed by Dr Waiswa Gonzaga, an orthopaedic surgeon from the Mulago national referral hospital in Mulago indicates that Nambooze complains of severe low back pain that has progressively increased over the past few weeks. Her operating surgeon Dr Vidyadhara .S. had recommended that she returns to India for review on June 15.
But on the said date, Nambooze was under detention for allegedly inciting violence in relation to the assassination of Arua municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga. She is now admitted at Kiruddu hospital.
Our reporter, who visited Nambooze at her sick bed, says that the legislator looks frail and is in a lot of pain. A doctor on duty, who however preferred anonymity, because he is restricted from talking to the media, said that screws that were fixed to support Nambooze's spine had been displaced.
"The pain is due to the pressure from one of the screws that are displaced from the Lumbar 4 (L4) vertebra. It is pressing on the nerve and it is stimulating the pain in both legs," the doctor said.
He added that Nambooze needs a second surgery to replace the screws adding that in Kiruddu, Nambooze is only getting supportive treatment which includes palliative care.
During the time of the visit to the hospital, four police officers in private uniform were sitting right at the entrance of the ward. The officers, who have been at the health facility since last week, come in on different shifts.
Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago who is Nambooze's lawyer says they have pleaded with the government and the police to release Nambooze for treatment in vain. Lukwago also expressed displeasure at Nakawa Magistrate's court that issued a court order granting police permission to confiscate Nambooze's phones, computers to help with the investigations into the murder of Abiriga.
Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) chairperson Med Kaggwa who visited Nambooze called for her release saying her condition needs urgency. Kaggwa says even in her current state, she is unable to defend herself on the allegations against her.
"The commission is concerned that if anything happens to Nambooze as a result of the delay of her medical treatment, it would raise legitimate questions as to why she was treated while in police custody," Kaggwa stated.