Drivers in Bunyoro sub-region have been urged to undergo medical check-ups regularly to avoid accidents related to ill health and ensure the safety of other road users.
Uganda’s state of road safety has lately been punctuated with bad news, and while the majority of the accidents are attributed to careless road usage, the health and physical welfare of drivers has also come under the spotlight.
The caution came days after Dr. Godfrey Kamugisha Mwesigwa, a veterinary doctor and supervisor animal production, directorate of Gender at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) was found lifeless seated in his vehicle in the middle of Gayaza road in Kampala on June 05.
Such sudden death- related to heart failure usually a consequence of non-communicable diseases- puts the lives of other road users in grave danger, but early diagnosis through routine checks could avert the danger, according to experts.
Dr. Dixon, as only identified, a medical officer at Kabuyanda Health Centre IV in Hoima City explains that drivers are at high risk of suffering Non Communicable Diseases.
The medical officer says diseases like hematoma which attacks the spinal cord, cardiovascular disease causing heart complications, glaucoma and diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and depression are common among drivers due to stress.
Although all the drivers are at a risk, those who drive long distances without getting enough rest are the most vulnerable.
He recommends daily exercises and physiotherapy checkups per month to prevent the diseases.
Robert Sunday, the drivers’ instructor, Prestige Driving School in Hoima City says before a driving license/permit is issued to the driver, medical checkups on eyes, ears and general health is done.
Sunday says though the need to examine drivers is paramount, the most important thing is mass sensitisation on how drivers should protect themselves while on road, adding that if a driver is stressed he should not drive.
Kenneth Nkumire, a resident in Hoima City opines that the mental health is of crucial importance.
“A driver must be in sound mental and physical state to ensure the safety of Passengers,” Nkumire said
In a phone interview Nelson Kobwemi, a senior driver working with Red Cross Uganda Hoima branch said high charges turn away drivers from being tested and treated.
For example, he says he spends Sh100,000 on a physiotherapy checkup in Kampala.
Kobwemi explains that the three day exercise mainly involves physical exercises, massage and steam bath, eye screening, general body examining and guidance on how to keep healthy like eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep.
Godfrey Kisembo, who has been a driver for 15 years and currently working with China Railway Group 7 said the company conducts physiotherapy checkups on drivers every three months.
Kisembo said this has helped him to keep fit and also reduce the accidents committed while at work.
Dr. Dixon suggested it would be helpful if the government introduced these services in the public health facilities.