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Ugandan doctors to decide if president Museveni is fit to lead

By Timothy Sibasi,

KAMPALA – In the lens of health professionals; the Medical Association of Uganda is to engage specialists from five professional sectors the to determine the physical and mental eligibility facilities of a person at 75 years to govern Uganda, the President of the Uganda Medical Association, Anthony Okwaro Obuku told the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee.

The development comes amid push by the Uganda Parliament which is processing the controversial private members Bill seeking to have the Presidential Age Limit deleted from Uganda’s 1995 Constitution to pave way for the life presidency project of incumbent President Museveni in Uganda and his future predecessors.

Dr. Anthony OkwaroObuku submitting before the committee of Parliament processing the controversial private members bill seeking to remove the presidential age limit from the Uganda Constitution.

Five medical professional areas constituting human medicine are being considered to include Geriatric, Physiology, Psychology, Psychiatrist, and Neurology to scientifically determine the eligibility of a 75 years old man to lead and govern Uganda by 2021.

If his mental fitness at the disputed age is found beyond reasonable doubt, doctors say that it will be sound enough for him not to make mistakes or suffer from memory loss.

The first expert to present in the specified two weeks for the medical association of Uganda to present its finding of the eligibility of a 75 year man to lead Uganda will be from the Geriatric Department of Mulago hospital and a Geriatrician.

Geriatrics or geriatric medicine is a specialty that focuses on health care of elderly people. Geriatricians often aim to promote health by preventing and treating diseases and disabilities in older adults. The expatriate in geriatric will be expected by the committee of Parliament on Legal Affairs to have trained in evaluation and management of unique healthcare needs and treatment in preferences of olderly persons.

The study which seeks to establish how elderly age impacts on leadership, according to the President of Medical Association of Uganda, Dr. Anthony OkwaroAbuku will also take into account expert knowledge of Physiologists.

Physiology in human medicine is the scientific study of normal mechanisms, and their interactions, which works within a living system.A sub-discipline of biology. An expert from Mulago hospital or Makerere University School of Medicine will focus on how organisms, organ systems, organscells, and biomolecules carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system. A physiologic state is that situation occurring from normal body function, rather than pathologically, which is centered on the abnormalities that occur in animal diseases, including humans.

The much anticipated scope of medical research to establish the eligibility of a person at 75 years to make sound decision in the office of the presidency of Uganda will also involve expert opinions from Psychologists. A psychologist is a mental health professional who evaluates and studies behavior and mental processes.

The committee of Parliament anticipates in its terms of references that an expert, who will present the psychology document on the 75 years eligibility to the presidency office, must have completed a doctoral (PhD) degree in psychology.

The medical dossier will also cover the psychiatry part of human medicine in establishing the likelihood of mental disorders or illnesses or psychiatric disorders that a person at 75 years of age may suffer from in a public office of presidency.

Psychiatry is a study of behavioral or mental partten that may cause suffering or a poor ability to function in life. Such disorders may be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Often causes of mental disorders are unclear, but theories have incorporated findings from a range of fields. Mental disorders are usually defined by a combination of how a person behaves, feels, perceives, or thinks.

Dr. Okwaro says that the psychiatric report will, “cause cognition since is a very important aspect of decision making and we think that someone who is fit to be a president of this country should be able to make very complex decisions and we’re also going to look at that aspect”.

According to Okwaro, Neurologists will also not be left. A neurologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the nervous system. The nervous system is made of two parts: the central and peripheral nervous system. It includes the brain and spinal cord.

The Neurological dossier to be tabled before the committee according to medical experts in the field of neurology will give a detailed neurological condition of a person at 75 and above on whether its manageable and the problems associated with his or her nervous system.

“Neurologists these will look at the aspects of nerves and the brain, physical and biological state extra, the brain and the nerver system”. -Dr. Anthony EkwaroObuku told the committee.

Meanwhile, Pathologist will also give their version to this effect on the Presidential Age Limit of 75 on whether it should remain in the constitution or be deleted. Pathologists are doctors who study the cause and development of disease. Most choose a specialty such as genetics or forensic pathology. Forensic pathology is the use of pathology for legal purposes, one of which is deciding cause of death.

“As you grow old the cells begins to die and pathologists look at dead cells. So we’re also going to consider pathologists.”-Dr. Anthony EkwaroObuku revealed.

The fears of many is whether the evidence in the cause of medical investigations of an old man at 75 years to be legible to lead and manage the affairs of the country will survive the element of bias.

“This why we’re choosing systematic not choosing single studies; Systematic reviews put down several studies and goes through thorough rigorous processes to attempt to eliminate bias we’re not using expert opinions, you heard in there parliamentarians discuss expert opinions. Expert opinions is when someone comes and say according to my abdominal feelings this is what i think, according to my experience this is what I think. Here we’re going to use research which has been done. We will not even provide interpretations we will make it as easy as possible for the Parliamentarians to interpret for themselves and for a person selling G.Nuts on the street to understand.” Dr. Anthony EkwaroObuku.

However, Uganda has the history of medical professionals hired to carryout investigations in high profile cases being intimidated and others framed by the state accusing them of illegally possessing body specimens of unknown individuals. However, the president of the Medical Association of Uganda revealed that top on agenda is going to be protecting the identities of hired medical professionals that are going to do the job.

“Previously when scientists were invited to handle the Anti-Homo Sexuality Act you remember it was a very controversial bill which was ascented by the president then withdrew it, some of those scientists where witch hunted internationally so what we’re going to do this time round is to protect the identity of the scientists and consider the message not the messenger”. Dr. Anthony EkwaroObuku noted.

The Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee of the Uganda Parliament processing this controversial bill has given the association of medical professionals only two weeks to have presented their findings on the subject matter.

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