Surgery mix up:Mwakyusa defends Muhimbili credibility By Mkinga Mkinga and Faraja Jube The Citizen The minister for Health and Social Welfare, Prof David Mwakyusa and specialists at the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) yesterday refuted allegations raised in the newspapers over the on-going probe at the institute. The probe follows a horrendous mix up at MOI in which doctors performed wrong surgical operations on two patients, one of whom is now fighting for his life in the intensive care unit. Media reports claim that some specialist doctors at MOI want another independent probe committee formed into the surgical error committed by the two doctors. A statement issued yesterday in Dodoma by the minister said it was not true that doctors did not have confidence in the probe committee already formed as media reports stated. "I would like to inform the general public that the government has been deeply saddened by this incident. "Since the matter is technical and requires ethical handling, I appeal to the public to be patient until the truth is revealed before further steps are taken," the statement urged. At the same time, 35 senior and junior doctors at MOI have forwarded to the minister, the permanent secretary and board of trustees chairman Sir Andy Chande a letter refuting the claims of lack of confidence in the probe team. "We convened a meeting of about 35 doctors at the Institute today (Friday) morning and reached consensus to respond to those allegations in writing," said the medical director, Dr Abednego Kinasha. According to Dr Kinasha, the letter denies allegations directed to the institution, in which a group of medical specialists have been accused of lacking confidence in the probe committee, signaling afore-hand that they would not accept with its findings. "There is nobody among us who has ever spoken to the media, particularly the local tabloids, about anything reported yesterday. We have confidence in the probe committee," he affirmed. "The probe committee has been formed legally according to existing regulations, after directives from the board and not upon the wishes of the management. "The committee shall work under prescribed terms of reference, and thereafter submit its findings to the Ministry. There is no way that the management of the institution will act otherwise without directives from the Ministry," he elaborated. Dr Kinasha said some of the newspapers carried sensational stories to create shock and fear among the public and ministerial authorities regarding the sensitivity of the issues facing the institute. "There is nothing to doubt about the formation of the committee. It was the fairest way to act upon such a medical error. The board acted immediately and formed an independent probe committee which was given relatively short time to investigate the matter," Dr. Kinasha further noted. He said during their Friday internal meeting the doctors refuted and condemned what was reported in the local newspapers, adding that they all signed a document which shows their confidence in the institution's management and the probe committee. Commenting on the recent situation after the incident, the medical director said the work load is higher compared to a few days before the suspension of two medical doctors following the incident. The head of neuro-surgery, Prof Joseph Kahamba also confirmed that the workload has doubled compared to the capacity of the number of neuro-surgery specialists at work at the moment. "The atmosphere is completely normal. We proceed with operations as normal though we have a huge workload, taking into consideration that we have just a few specialists," he said. The institution has only one expert and three local neurosurgeons inclusive of the one suspended pending investigation into the matter, four anaesthetists and 13 orthopaedic surgeons. "It is not that some patients are not operated due to the suspension of our colleagues. The situation is that sometimes our intensive care unit is full of patients, and as medical specialists, we cannot conduct surgery while we do not have a bed to admit operated patients at ICU," explained Prof Kahamba. The incident in which two patients underswent wrong surgery is said to have created an unpleasant atmosphere among medical specialists, with depression among both patients and specialists. Additional reporting by Rodgers Luhwago in Dodoma. "We are depressed, and it is unfortunate that it happened. We hope that definitely it won't be repeated. "This is the general feeling among doctors, that our colleagues have become victims of unfortunate circumstances, but they still are very hardworking, committed and experienced professionals," said one of the specialists. Additional reporting by Rodgers Luhwago in Dodoma.