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Most of them were patients with serious conditions that required close monitoring by the medics but they would not listen to the doctor’s plea for them to stay in their wards.

In the Eastern Ugandan district of Butaleja, scores of terminally ill patients, some of whom were diagnosed with advanced malaria, liver ailments, HIV and diabetes decided to self-discharge from their hospital beds without the knowledge and permission of nurses and Doctors who were still intent on treating them. Their sole reason for abandoning the hospital was basically to go home and enjoy Christmas with relatives and friends.

All efforts by the medics to restraint the patients and even remind them of the dangers of self discharging themselves without the professional authority of Doctors  fell on deaf ears. Some of the patients were due for additional bottles of drip but they would not listen to any idea that they should spend their Christmas in the hospital wards.

In Rural Uganda, Christmas is one occasion that folks take very seriously. In the peasantry communities of Uganda, folks spend their whole year’s savings on Christmas expenses. Husbands buy new dresses for their wives and children and spend the rest of their money on meat and lots of local brew to enjoy the occasion.

Whereas the Church activities are meant to show case new dresses each family member has bought, it is also the day when those who for the whole year have not been able to pray, make that one effort in a year to commune with their God. Once the prayers are done with, rural folks then embark on heavy eating and drinking. The egalitarian nature of rural communities in Uganda is still very strong, so on days such as Christmas, sharing of resources like food is very common. Individual households cook their chicken and meat and then take to a common joint agreed by all households and there is where the feasting will take place till deep into the night.

Rural folks here have such a passionate attachment to  Christmas celebrations that they can afford to self discharge themselves from their Hospital beds. It is very likely that over eating and over drinking by these patients could end the lives of a few of them, may be it is then, that the few who will survive will learn some hard lessons about leaving their hospital beds without authority. We can only pray and hope that they survive the period between now and when they can resume their treatment in the hospitals.